In the interest of preventing so-called insider trading, federal regulations prohibit members of Congress or their family members to trade stocks based on information that is not readily available to the general public.
Nevertheless, questions continue to surround a series of coincidentally timed — not to mention lucrative — investment transactions by Paul Pelosi, who is married to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
The stock trades reportedly came just before actions by Congress and other federal entities that arguably impacted stock prices.
In March, Paul Pelosi purchased a number of call options on Amazon stock that gave him the right to buy shares at an agreed-upon price at some point in the future regardless of the actual value of the stock at the time of purchase.
Weeks later, the Pentagon revealed that it canceled a $10 billion contract with Microsoft to provide cloud computing services for the Department of Defense. Amazon had previously bid on the program when it was first announced in 2019.
Amazon sued the federal government for awarding the bid to Microsoft, citing then-President Donald Trump’s animosity toward Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
For its part, the Pentagon denied that the Trump administration applied any pressure regarding the decision but nonetheless canceled the contract and reopened bidding on the project.
The speaker’s response
That move sent Amazon’s stock value higher, and apparently more valuable than the price Paul Pelosi agreed to pay.
Although this specific transaction could reasonably be written off as just a lucrative coincidence, Fox Business reported that he purchased up to $6 million in call options on shares of Amazon, Apple, and Google’s parent company Alphabet just a few weeks before a congressional panel moved forward with a bill involving those and other Big Tech firms.
The House Judiciary Committee voted to move forward with a range of bipartisan bills in June that impacted the actual value of the stocks in comparison to the price at which Pelosi agreed to purchase them. He also reportedly purchased nearly $2 million in call options for Microsoft in March — a mere two weeks before the Pentagon announced a $22 billion contract with the company to provide the military with virtual reality headsets.
For her part, the House speaker has claimed total ignorance of her husband’s transactions.
A spokesperson addressed the controversy in a recent statement, insisting: “The speaker has no involvement or prior knowledge of these transactions. The speaker does not own any stock.”