Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has claimed she supports calls to “tighten the fines” and increase restrictions on members of Congress trading stocks.
“We have to tighten the fines on those who violate the STOCK Act,” Pelosi, a seasoned “insider” trader told reporters in Washington during a press conference.
“It’s not sufficient to deter the behavior.”
Fifty-five members of Congress have violated the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which bars members and employees of Congress from “using nonpublic information derived from their official positions” to inform stock trading, according to an investigation by Business Insider.
Pelosi and her husband have made millions from stock trading since she took office in 1987.
U.S. lawmakers and their immediate family members bought and sold an estimated $355 million worth of stocks in 2021 alone, according to a recent analysis.
Pelosi had previously resisted a stock trading ban for members of Congress, telling reporters in December 2021 that “we’re a free-market economy” and members “should be able to participate in that.” She did not indicate at the time support for any tweaks to the STOCK Act.
Members of both parties have voiced support for banning members from trading.
Such a ban would be a “common-sense measure” that is “supported by Americans across the political spectrum,” more than two dozen lawmakers led by Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) told Pelosi in a letter in January.
“It’s clear the current rules are not working,” the group wrote.
“We came to Congress to serve our country, not turn a quick buck.”
Other members have been more hesitant to adopt a wholesale stock trading ban.
During a recent podcast appearance, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) said members should be allowed to invest in stock funds, but that he would support trading individual stocks.
Pelosi spoke on Wednesday hours after Punchbowl News, citing anonymous sources, said she and fellow Democrat leaders were working on a ban on trading.
The House Administration Committee and other panels are working on various proposals for addressing members and stocks, Pelosi said.
Among the proposals being bandied about: forcing federal judges to make yearly financial disclosures.
More than 100 judges have in recent years violated ethics rules by participating in cases where they should have recused, or otherwise failing to properly notice a financial interest.
Supreme Court Justice John Roberts on the last day of 2021 announced plans for more rigorous ethics training courses in response.
“The judiciary has no reporting. The Supreme Court has no disclosure, it has no reporting of stock transactions, and it makes important decisions every day,” Pelosi said, mentioning the recusal failures.
The public may lack confidence in judges because of the lack of disclosures, she added.
If Democrats decide to extend requirements to the Judiciary Branch, “that’s what we’ll do,” she said.
A bill dealing with the issue, the “Banning Insider Trading in Congress Act,” was previously introduced by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) in January; Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Jon Ossoff (D-GA) introduced a similar bill around the same time.