Nancy Pelosi: Congress Should Consider Bigger Fines for STOCK Act Violators

Facing withering criticism from political friends and foes alike, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is directing a panel to consider higher fines for lawmakers and top aides who violate a law on congressional stock trading meant to combat financial conflicts of interest.
The Democratic leader asked the Committee on House Administration to investigate how many members have broken the reporting requirements of the 2012 Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act.

Insider's "Conflicted Congress" investigation found that at least 54 members of Congress and 182 of their top aides have violated the STOCK Act's disclosure provisions.

The Speaker asked the panel to look into the possibility of stiffening penalties for senior staff, according to Drew Hammill, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff.
He said that the speaker asked the Committee on House Administration to look into the issue of Members' noncompliance with the reporting requirements in the STOCK Act. Rules on lawmakers and staff are set by the panel.

Most recent statements about members of Congress and their stock trades contrast with Pelosi's actions. Pelosi told Insider that members of Congress should be allowed to buy and sell individual stocks.
We are a free-market economy. Pelosi said that members of Congress should report their trades on time.

The STOCK Act requires members of Congress to report their stock transactions within 30 to 45 days, but many have failed to do so recently. Stock trades worth millions of dollars have been broken by some.

Lawmakers who have violated the STOCK Act invest in companies that compete for federal contracts and lobby the federal government, sometimes spending millions of dollars annually to do so.

Lawmakers responsible for health policy buying shares of COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, and House members who invest in oil companies are examples of potential conflicts of interest.

Pelosi is one of the wealthiest members of Congress. Paul Pelosi has millions of dollars worth of stock investments that the speaker must report.
Nancy Pelosi reported selling 6,000 shares of Apple stock on January 12 for between $1 million and $2 million. Contributions of 3,000 shares were made to the Paul F. Pelosi Endowed Fund at Georgetown University and Trinity College.

Nancy Pelosi made a stock trade disclosure.

The House of Representatives has a clerk.

Insider contacted the Senate Rules Committee and the office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to ask if the Senate could do a similar review.

On Tuesday, Schumer dodged a question about whether he supported a stock trading ban for lawmakers, but told Insider, "I don't own any stocks, and I think that's the right thing to do."

Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York are both in favor of banning members of Congress from trading individual stocks.

Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

There are minimal consequences.

The investigation found that there were few consequences for violating the law, including cases in which they reported millions of dollars in trades months or even years late.

Scofflaws are supposed to pay a late fee of $200 the first time they file a report about their stock trades, and if they continue to be late, they are supposed to pay higher fines. That rarely happens.

As Pelosi's actions come, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have proposed a slew of similar bills to ban stock trading, including a pair of competing proposals unveiled on Wednesday by Sen. Jon Ossoff, a Democrat of Georgia.
Kevin McCarthy, who is poised to become the new speaker if Republicans win back the House after the 2022, told Punchbowl News this week that he supports restrictions on members of Congress buying and selling individual stocks. A bill sponsored by a Texas Republican and a ban on congressional stock trades by a candidate for the US Senate are both part of a campaign issue.

Some Democrats want to restrict lawmakers' stock trades, including Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Mark Kelly of Arizona, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and Mark Warner of Virginia.