Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) talks to reporters during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol  on December 15, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

'Are They Trying to Lose?' Critics Ask After Pelosi Defends Stock Trading by Lawmakers

"Letting the child tax credit disappear, making people pay back student loans, mocking the idea of at-home Covid tests, and now defending members of Congress trading stocks. It's getting harder and harder to convince me the Democrats want to win," said one critic.

Julia Conley

Progressives and government watchdog groups on Wednesday condemned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's defense of individual stock trading by members of Congress, days after an extensive report revealed dozens of conflicts of interest by lawmakers who own stocks related to the healthcare industry and other sectors Congress is supposed to regulate.

After being asked by Business Insider at her weekly press conference whether members of Congress and their spouses should be barred from trading stocks, Pelosi said the practice should be permitted to continue because "we are a free market economy."

Speaking to Business Insider after the press conference, Pelosi's spokesperson said the STOCK Act—which was passed in 2012 and requires members to disclose security transactions and ensure they don't make individual stock trades based on knowledge they gain as lawmakers—prevents members of Congress from insider trading.

"It's not 'participating in the free market' for some of our nation's most powerful to benefit financially from inside information."

But the outlet's "Conflicted Congress" investigation released Monday, showed that at least 49 lawmakers and 182 senior congressional staffers have violated the STOCK Act, including dozens whose stock holdings may have allowed them to benefit from the coronavirus pandemic.

At least 11 senators and 34 representatives held shares of Pfizer, the manufacturer of one of the Covid-19 vaccines. The investigation also found stocks held by lawmakers from both major political parties in 3M, which makes personal protective equipment; Quest Diagnostics, which provides Covid-19 tests; and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, the maker of a treatment for the disease.

As Common Dreams reported in April 2020, in the weeks before the pandemic, members of Congress made nearly 1,500 stock transactions worth up to $158 million—in many cases buying stocks in companies that might see a boost during the crisis and selling stocks that seemed likely to decrease in value.

When asked about the lack of compliance with the STOCK Act at her news conference, the speaker said only that members of Congress "should be" reporting their holdings.

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) was among the first watchdog groups to respond forcefully to Pelosi's comments.

"Members of Congress should not be able to trade stocks because it's not 'participating in the free market' for some of our nation's most powerful to benefit financially from inside information," the group tweeted. "It's a conflict of interest, plain and simple, and it needs to stop."

Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, government affairs manager for the group, added that lawmakers' ability to trade individual stocks—and Pelosi's vehement defense of the practice—could significantly damage the public's perception of Congress and the federal government.

Progressive lawmakers including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have spoken out about the issue, with Warren telling Business Insider on Wednesday, "The American people should never have to guess whether or not an elected official is advancing an issue or voting on a bill based on what's good for the country or what's good for their own personal financial interests."

Some critics suggested Pelosi defended stock trading on Capitol Hill because she has personally benefited from the practice; her husband, venture capitalist Paul Pelosi, trades corporate stocks and in 2020 owned shares worth as much as $25 million in Apple, Amazon, and Visa. The couple's net worth grew by $16.7 million last year.

Others noted that Pelosi's defensive comments came just as it was reported that the Democratic Party is planning to shelve the Build Back Better Act—the $1.75 trillion reconciliation package that would invest in climate action and anti-poverty measures—due to objections to the Child Tax Credit from right-wing Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia—and as the Biden administration is preparing to force millions of Americans to restart payments of the student debt, leading to questions about how the party will inspire voter turnout in 2022 and beyond.

"Are they trying to lose?" asked journalist Kate Aronoff.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·


Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo