Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi found herself in the center of a firestorm following one of her husband’s most recent stock purchases, but his stock purchases have caught the media’s attention and come under scrutiny for quite some time.
Pelosi’s latest headache ignited after her husband Paul, who owns a San Francisco investment and consulting firm, bought more than $1 million in Nvidia, a computer chip company, just weeks before a congressional vote that would provide massive subsidies to the industry.
Pelosi said that Paul has never made stock purchases based on information she gave him when pressed by Fox News Digital on July 21. Her office also put the California Democrat at arm’s length away from Paul’s financial decisions.
“The Speaker does not own any stocks,” Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s communications director, told FOX Business. “The Speaker has no prior knowledge or subsequent involvement in any transactions.”
But the headline-grabbing trade wasn’t the first time Pelosi – who is among the wealthiest members of Congress – has garnered attention for her husband’s stock timing.
During summer 2021, Paul cashed in on big tech shortly before the House Judiciary Committee voted to curtail the “unregulated power” of companies like Google and Amazon, Fortune reported. The move, however, wasn’t considered a threat to the companies, and the tech firms’ stock prices continued to rise.
Paul, meanwhile, had purchased 4,000 shares of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, by exercising call options a week before the vote. The call options – which give investors the right to buy shares of a company at a specific price – allowed him to snag the shares of Alphabet at $1,200 a piece as they closed that day at just over $2,500, according to Fortune. Paul earned $5.3 million on the investment at the time.
A few months before the Alphabet purchase, Paul picked up millions of dollars worth of Microsoft stock just days before the company announced a lucrative government contract.
Paul exercised call options and paid $1.95 million to buy 15,000 shares of Microsoft at a strike price of $130 on March 19, Fox Business reported. That same day, Paul paid $1.4 million for 10,000 shares valued at $140.
Microsoft announced a government contract worth nearly $22 billion to supply U.S. Army combat troops with augmented reality headsets just twelve days after Paul’s purchase, and the company’s share prices increased from about $230 to roughly $255 – or close to 11% – in the weeks following the announcement.
And months before the Microsoft purchase, Paul snagged up between $500,000 and $1 million in Tesla investments in December 2020, or roughly a month before President Biden announced the federal government would transition its fleet to electric vehicles.
Biden, who was open about moving toward electric vehicles, in late January 2021, “directed federal officials to devise a plan for converting all federal, state, local and tribal fleets, including 225,000 Postal Service vehicles, to “clean and zero-emission vehicles,” the Washington Post reported.
Biden’s infrastructure plan later set aside more than $170 billion for electric vehicle subsidies.
“The Pelosi family’s pattern of appearing to use her Speakership for their own personal financial benefit continues to raise red flags,” Caitlin Sutherland, executive director of Americans for Public Trust, told FOX Business.
“And Mr. Pelosi’s latest stock purchase in a company set to receive a massive subsidy from Congress is no different,” Sutherland added. “It now seems they have thrown caution entirely to the wind, turning the Speaker’s gavel into one giant golden parachute.”
Lawmakers’ spouses can trade in companies or industries their partner may help regulate, but it’s illegal for family members and members of Congress to profit from inside information.
Congressional members, meanwhile, consistently beat the market, according to an Unusual Whales analysis from earlier this year.
The analysis found that lawmakers traded $290 million in stocks and other assets last year and, on average, outperformed the market, Reuters reported.
FOX Business’ Adam Sabes and Megan Henney contributed reporting.