December 21st, 2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been facing wide pushback for her recent defense of members of Congress who continue to trade stocks while in office.
Last week, when confronted with a Business Insider report that found dozens of lawmakers and staffers had, at some point, violated a law that prevents insider trading, she declared, “We are a free-market economy. They should be able to participate in that.”
Pelosi and her husband have had a famously successful run with their personal market holdings and saw their family’s wealth increase over the course of the pandemic, as she and her husband consistently placed market bets that have more than proved their worth.
Now, however, it appears that lawmakers from both parties are speaking up against the practice of playing the market from a position of increased knowledge and power.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a moderate Democrat in a hotly contested Virginia district, recently tweeted in response to Pelosi, “No. It cannot be a perk of the job for Members to trade on access to information.”
Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.), another member locked in a tough district, agreed. “Americans are losing trust in government and we need to show we serve the people, not our personal/political self-interest,” Kim said.
Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), whose personal fortune tops $60 million, said he “disagree(s) with the Speaker.”
Also taking a hardline stance against trading while in Congress is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who says she holds no individual stocks or digital assets.
“There is no reason members of Congress should hold and trade individual stock when we write major policy and have access to sensitive information. There are many ways members can invest w/o creating actual or appeared conflict of interest, like thrift savings plans or index funds,” she said.
Earlier this Congress, Spanberger introduced a bill that would require lawmakers, as well as their immediate family members, to place their assets in a blind trust while the members remain in office.
Phillips, who is a cosponsor of the bill, said “I’ve done it, and I believe we all should.”
The bill has drawn a wide array of support from around the chamber, including incoming House Freedom Caucus chairman Scott Perry (R-Penn.).
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), an original cosponsor of the legislation, recently tweeted, “Actually, Members of Congress SHOULD NOT be trading stocks themselves while in office.”
Several members of the Upper Chamber came under scrutiny last year for selling off substantial amounts of stock in late January and early February 2020, as they were receiving classified briefings pertaining to the onset of the novel coronavirus.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) stepped down from his post as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee after he was accused of insider trading. Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) also faced questions.