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Paul Pelosi's history of timely stock trades resurfaces after latest buy makes headlines

Nearly 36 years after coming to Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tasked the House Administration Committee to draft a stock ban bill, but a vote was delayed before the House left for recess.

October 19, 2022 2:11pm

Updated: October 19, 2022 11:20pm

The long history of eyebrow-raising stock purchases by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband is drawing renewed scrutiny following Paul Pelosi's latest transaction, which occurred right before House Democrats rolled out a bill banning legislators and their immediate family members from trading individual stocks.

Speaker Pelosi was first elected to office in 1987 and is currently serving her 18th term in the House. Nearly 36 years after coming to Congress, Pelosi tasked the House Administration Committee to draft a stock ban bill, but a vote on the bill was delayed before the House left for recess. Pelosi is serving her fourth term as House speaker. 

The speaker's latest financial disclosure form showed that her husband exercised call options on at least $1 million-$5 million of stock in Google parent company Alphabet on Sept. 16, shortly before House Democratic leaders formally unveiled legislation that would ban lawmakers and their immediate family members from purchasing individual stocks.

Several different stock ban bills had already been proposed in the House. The House Democratic leadership's version was rolled out about one week after Paul Pelosi exercised the call options. Pelosi explained why the bill didn't move forward before Congress adjourned at the end of September.

"We didn't have the votes," Pelosi said. "I wish we would've had the Republicans to vote for it because we're almost there, but there are a few of our members who just, Steny has said he doesn't want to vote for it, but I can only lose three votes."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat who opposed bringing the bill to the floor before the House recess, said he wanted to see harsher insider trading penalties as part of the legislation.

In July, it was revealed that Paul Pelosi purchased between $1 million-$5 million of stock in the semiconductor company Nvidia ahead of an upcoming vote on legislation containing $52 billion for chipmakers. He later sold the stock ahead of the expected final vote on the bill. 

Pelosi has purchased a great deal of tech stock during his wife's current term as speaker. According to a Fortune report from July 2021, Pelosi garnered millions on "timely" bets with Big Tech stock buys in advance of an antitrust bill that was moving through the House. The bill eventually stalled. Pelosi continued to make technology stock buys. In March, the speaker disclosed that her husband bought Apple, Disney and PayPal shares. 

Paul Pelosi's controversial stock buys go back to 2008, when he bought Visa stock while major credit card companies were reportedly lobbying his wife to halt legislation that would curb credit card swipe fees to vendors.

"The Pelosis purchased 5,000 shares of Visa at the initial price of $44 dollars," according to a CBS News report from 2008. "Two days later it was trading at $64." 

The Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights eventually did pass out of the House. 

"I will hold my record in terms of fighting the credit card companies as speaker of the House or as a member of Congress up against anyone," Speaker Pelosi told "60 Minutes" at the time.

In his 2011 book "Throw Them All Out," investigative journalist Peter Schweizer called attention to the lack of any stock trading laws that applied to members of Congress and their families. Former President Obama later signed into law the STOCK Act, which sought to prevent insider trading among legislators but didn't prohibit members of Congress or their spouses from buying individual stocks. Instead, lawmakers were required only to file financial disclosure reports that show the purchases they or their spouse made. 

"So in the case of the Pelosis, for example, she's the Speaker of the House, legislation that's going to affect Big Tech in a positive way or big contracts going to Big Tech, her husband's not only buying and selling stock in Big Tech, he's actually buying options, which are sort of leveraged bets that the stock is going to go one way or the other," Schweizer told Just the News in October 2021. "And, of course, Paul Pelosi Sr. just happens to be really good at making those predictions."

A growing number of retail traders follow Mr. Pelosi's stock buys for potential winners that will generate them cash, according to a report from Reuters.

Pelosi's office said in July that she had "no prior knowledge" of her husband's semiconductor stock purchase.

"The speaker does not own any stocks," said a spokesman for Pelosi, according to FOX Business. "As you can see from the required disclosures, with which the Speaker fully cooperates, these transactions are marked 'SP' for Spouse. The Speaker has no prior knowledge or subsequent involvement in any transactions." 

The Pelosis' net worth has more than doubled since 2004, according to data from Open Secrets, which reported that the speaker was the 6th wealthiest member of Congress in 2018, with an estimated net worth of more than $114 million. A 2020 analysis from the money in politics watchdog estimated that her net worth was around $41 million in 2004. 

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