‘This Is A Free Market’: Pelosi Defends Congressional Stock Trading In Face Of Report Detailing Ethics Violations

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi defended the right of members of Congress to trade individual stocks in the face of a report detailing rampant violations of the STOCK Act.

“We have a responsibility to report stock, but I’m not familiar with that five month review,” she said Wednesday, in response to a question about the report from Insider. Insider found that 48 members of Congress and 182 senior aides have violated the STOCK Act, which requires prompt disclosures of the sale of any securities. The publication also revealed that numerous members invested in pharmaceutical stocks in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, while other members invest in industries that they are responsible for regulating. (RELATED: Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne Traded Stocks For Companies Her Committee Conducts Oversight Of)

“This is a free market and people,” Pelosi continued before trailing off. “We are a free market economy and we should be able to participate in that.”

“But if the people aren’t reporting they should be,” she added.

One of the wealthiest members of Congress, Pelosi has filed 14 reports detailing stock sales in the last two years. She has sold millions of dollars of stock in companies including Facebook, Google and Amazon that have found themselves in Congress’s regulatory crosshairs. An account detailing Pelosi’s financial transactions was recently suspended by Twitter.

Despite Pelosi’s defense of members trading individual stocks, she has not always appeared completely supportive of free markets. Pelosi claimed in September that capitalism “has not served our economy as well as it should,” and that “we have to correct… a system where the success of some springs from the exploitation of the workers and springs from the exploitation of the environment and the rest.”

A bipartisan group of representatives has introduced legislation that would ban members of Congress from trading individual stocks. Their bill, the Ban Conflicted Trading Act, would require all members to place assets in qualified blind trusts before selling, or face a 10% fine on the asset that was sold.