Nancy Pelosi says lawmakers should be allowed to own shares. Incorrect!
But the law seems unable – or its implementers seem unwilling – to cover less egregious cases. Take, for example, the plight of North Carolina Senator Richard Burr. In February 2020, just a month before the COVID-19 pandemic turned American life upside down, Burr sold more than $ 1.6 million in shares. On the same day, ProPublica reported in October, he also called his brother-in-law and spoke to him for 50 seconds. Within the next minute, Burr’s brother-in-law called his own stock broker to take action. As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time, ProPublica noted, Burr had access to all manner of non-public information on national security and threats to public health.
Federal prosecutors have reportedly refused to press charges against Burr after an investigation, although he has stepped down as chairman of the Intelligence Committee and will not stand for re-election. Other lawmakers whose trades came under scrutiny last year have also escaped criminal sanction. Former Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler sold for $ 16 million in shares just before the market collapsed in the spring of 2020, while California Senator Dianne Feinstein was interviewed by the FBI on her husband’s stock trading during this period. Investigations by federal investigators and the Senate Ethics Committee in both cases ended without further consequences.
Many other stock transactions by lawmakers appear to be relatively mundane, or are carried out by third parties for ethical reasons, or do not involve particularly large sums. But for some lawmakers and their spouses, stock trading seems to be more of a passion than just an investment strategy. According to a report by The New York Times, former Georgian Senator David Purdue, for example, reported a whopping 2,596 transactions during his six years in office, or roughly a third of all stock transactions made by lawmakers during that period. Purdue claimed that its operations were executed by a third party without its involvement, but the Time found instances where he had personally led transactions and bet on companies that would fall under the purview of his committees.
And then there’s Pelosi herself. As a speaker, she exerts a considerable influence on the form of legislation and its chances of reaching the prosecution. Her husband Paul, who runs an investment firm in San Francisco, has had a few pretty healthy success by investing in technology companies in neighboring Silicon Valley. One of his call option trades over the summer at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, even harvested a profit of $ 5.3 million. The business sense of Pelosis has become something of a meme among individual investors on TikTok and Reddit for the past two years, with some analysts trying to emulate their trades to match their success.