At a press conference on Wednesday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said that lawmakers and their spouses shouldn’t be barred from trading stocks.
“This is a free market, we are a free market economy, they should be able to participate in that,” Pelosi said.
It is not illegal for members of Congress to trade stocks. But Pelosi was responding to a question from Insider, which released an investigation on Monday revealing that 49 members of Congress and 182 congressional staffers were late to disclose personal stock trades, which is a violation of federal conflict-of-interest laws. The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, also known as the STOCK Act, was signed into law in 2012 to prevent insider trading among congressional lawmakers and their senior staff, and requires them and their family members to disclose stock sales or purchases within 45 days.
Some lawmakers have openly denounced aspects of stock trading among Congress members. Last week New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the idea of lawmakers trading individual stock “ludicrous.” And Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren criticized the “brazenness” of the lawmakers who were caught violating federal disclosure law.
“The access and influence we have should be exercised for the public interest, not our profit,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter earlier this month.
On Thursday, people took to Twitter to react to Pelosi’s comment.
“This is the wrong answer,” wrote Kai Ryssdal, host of NPR’s business and economy show Marketplace.
“GOOD GRIEF! NO! She’s wrong. She is 100% wrong,” wrote Walter Schaub, the former director of the U.S. Office of Government and Ethics.
Pelosi is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, according to an analysis by Insider. Her husband, Paul Pelosi, has holdings in Slack, Tesla, Disney, Visa, Salesforce, PayPal, Alphabet, Facebook, and Netflix. He’s previously made millions of dollars through buying shares in big tech companies like Alphabet.
In the past, some lawmakers have become the recipients of intense scrutiny after suspicious (and successful) stock trading activity, including former Republican senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.
A spokesman for Pelosi stated at the press conference that she stands on the side of transparency when it comes to stock trading, and added that she does not own any stocks herself, Business Insider reported.
“The STOCK Act exists to shine a bright light on trades by members of Congress,” said spokesperson Drew Hammill. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
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