Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi indicated Wednesday that she would not block a bipartisan attempt to ban members of Congress from buying and selling individual stocks, a position to which she personally opposes.
“I do believe in the integrity of people in public service. I want the public to have that understanding. We have to do something to deter something that we see as a problem, but it is a confidence issue, and if that’s what the members want to do, then that’s what we’ll do,” Pelosi said during a press conference.
Her comments were in line with the ones she’d made in January when she said that she didn’t believe new rules were necessary but that the House Administration Committee could review the issue. Pelosi is on record as personally opposing a ban, claiming in December that trading stocks allow members to “participate” in the U.S.’s “free market economy.”
Pelosi also said that she would prefer to “tighten the fines on those who violate the STOCK Act. It’s not sufficient to deter behavior.”
The STOCK Act requires members of Congress to file stock transactions with their chamber clerk within 45 days of conducting the trade. Members frequently defy the reporting requirement, but enforcement is not consistent.
The House speaker also criticized the Supreme Court’s ethics requirements, claiming that any financial reform would have to be “government-wide.” Lower federal courts are bound by ethics rules legislated by Congress but the Supreme Court sets its ethics and disclosure rules. Prominent liberals, most notably Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, have claimed that the Court’s lack of disclosure rules allows it to be controlled by right-wing dark money.
Pelosi personally conducted up to $30.4 million worth of stock trades in 2021, according to her ethics disclosures. According to the financial analysis blog Unusual Whales, Pelosi’s trades had the sixth-best performance of all members of Congress, and the best among Democrats. In particular, Pelosi exercised call options on Microsoft stock in March, less than two weeks before the U.S. Army announced a nearly $22 billion contract with the tech giant.