House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came out on defense during a recent press briefing after a report revealed that a number of congressional lawmakers violated that Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act.
Pelosi who benefitted perhaps more than any other representative from gains related to trading stocks, said that members of congress and their spouses should not be barred from trading individual stocks, citing a “free market economy.”
Pelosi’s remarks came in response to a report from Insider showing that 49 members of Congress (Democrats and Republicans) along with 182 senior Hill aides have failed to disclose their transactions in accordance with Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2012.
Among the findings, almost 75 lawmakers holding stocks in Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, which make the Covid vaccines, were trading those stocks in the early weeks of the pandemic.
Another 15 lawmakers overseeing defense policy actively invest in military contractors.
Pelosi was asked if members of Congress and their spouses should be banned from trading individual stocks, thereby preventing insider trading,
“We’re a free-market economy,” Pelosi explained. “They should be able to participate in that.”
As noted by Insider, the STOCK Act of 2012, was designed to combat possible insider trading and conflicts of interests among members of Congress, forcing “lawmakers to be more transparent about their personal financial dealings.”
“A key provision of the law mandates that lawmakers publicly — and quickly — disclose any stock trade made by themselves, a spouse, or a dependent child.
But many members of Congress have not fully complied with the law. They offer excuses including ignorance of the law, clerical errors, and mistakes by an accountant. Insider has chronicled this widespread nature of this phenomenon in a new project, “Conflicted Congress.””
Lawmakers who violate the STOCK Act could be fined up to a measly $200.
The tiny penalty – especially compared to the gains they could earn from trading on insider knowledge – has led several ethics watchdog groups to call for harsher penalties or an all-out ban on lawmakers from trading stocks.
It’s not surprising that Nancy Pelosi would take such an aggressive stance to defend the lawmakers right to trade stocks given the fact that Pelosi and her husband Paul have become rather wealthy from doing so.
This year, for instance, weeks prior to the House Judiciary Committee’s vote on the antitrust legislation aimed at some major Big Tech companies, Paul Pelosi began “exercising call options to acquire 4,000 shares of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, at a strike price of $1,200,” according to Bloomberg.
The single trade netted Pelosi a whopping $4.8 million gain.
The Speaker of the House’s obvious conflict of interest here was not lost on the media, as even liberal outlet CNBC – which typically only praises the Democrat politician – called her out.
CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin called it “one of the most disappointing,” and “disgraceful” comments he’s heard on the issue.
“What a disgusting comment,” former government ethics chief Walter Shaub told Fox News. “This is the opposite of government ethics.”
Author: Chris Derrick
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