House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said members of Congress and their spouses should not be barred from trading individual stocks as part of the STOCK Act, citing a “free market economy.”
During a press briefing on Wednesday, in response to a report from Insider showing that 49 members of Congress (Democrats and Republicans) have failed to disclose their transactions in accordance with Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2012, 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.”
Pelosi did note that members of Congress should be revealing their stock transactions, which would show possible insider trading:
"We're a free-market economy. They should be able to participate in that." — Pelosi's rationale for why spouses of members of Congress should be able to trade individuals stocks is not very convincing pic.twitter.com/NuOw0VznVm
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 15, 2021
As noted by Insider, the STOCK Act of 2012, legislation Andrew Breitbart heavily backed, 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 $200, a small penalty that has led several ethics watchdog groups to call for harsher penalties or an all-out ban on lawmakers from trading stocks – a practice by which Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul, have become considerably wealthy. 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 trade netted Pelosi a $4.8 million gain.
Breitbart News senior contributor Peter Schweizer has been a heavy proponent of the STOCK Act since its inception with his 2011 book Throw Them All Out, which formed the basis for a 60 Minutes report about unethical stock trades in Congress.