Obama ethics chief calls Pelosi's support of lawmaker stock trading 'disgusting': the 'opposite’ of ethics

What is the STOCK Act?

Senators selling stocks before the coronavirus pandemic rocked the markets have renewed attention on something called the STOCK Act. Here’s what you need to know.

Former President Obama’s ethics chief called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s support of lawmakers trading stocks “disgusting” and the “opposite of government ethics.”

Former director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) Walter Shaub torched the speaker’s backing of personal financial trading among lawmakers after Pelosi defended the practice Wednesday.

“We are a free market economy,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said, responding to a question about members of Congress and their spouses being barred from personal trading. “They should be able to participate in that.”

“What a disgusting comment,” Shaub told Fox News Digital in an email. “This is the opposite of government ethics.”

“Nobody kidnapped these members of Congress when they were private citizens, dragged them to Washington and forced them to be in Congress,” Shaub added. “The American people are sick of members of Congress buying and selling stock and creating the appearance of trading on insider information.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, March 19, 2021. (Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP)
(AP)

“They should absolutely be banned from trading stocks,” Obama’s ethics chief concluded. “Let them buy diversified mutual funds. Let them buy government bonds. But bar them from trading stocks for crying out loud.”

Shaub also called Pelosi out on Twitter over her comments, tweeting that if the speaker seeks “government ethics” and “to drain the swamp” as well as restore “public trust in the integrity of Congress,” she needed to “close this flood gate.”

“Madam Speaker, tear down this Wall Street participation!” Shaub added.

Pelosi has come under fire online from critics over her personal trading moves. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., recently slammed lawmakers in Congress who hold and trade individual stocks.

“It is absolutely ludicrous that members of Congress can hold and trade individual stock while in office,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted last week. “The access and influence we have should be exercised for the public interest, not our profit. It shouldn’t be legal for us to trade individual stock with the info we have.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks with reporters, Thursday, June 17, 2021, as she arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington.
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, defended his boss Wednesday, telling Business Insider that the “STOCK Act exists to shine a bright light on trades by members of Congress” and that “sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

“As you can see from the required disclosures, with which the speaker fully cooperates, these transactions are marked ‘SP’ for spouse,” Hammill said recently. “The speaker has no prior knowledge or subsequent involvement in any transactions.”

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