January 26, 2023

Hawley Introduces the PELOSI Act

An infuriating congressional practice now meets a brilliantly named bill.

It took ‘em long enough.

Yesterday, Senator Josh Hawley introduced a long-overdue bill that would ban members of Congress from trading and owning stocks. To this we say: It’s about time. But if the best part of the bill is what it does, the second-best part is surely its name: the Preventing Elected Leaders from Owning Securities and Investments Act.

Yes, it’s called the PELOSI Act.

“Members of Congress and their spouses,” Hawley trumpeted “shouldn’t be using their position to get rich on the stock market — today l’m introducing legislation to BAN stock trading and ownership by members of Congress. I call it the PELOSI Act.”

Good on Senator Hawley, and doubly good for the brilliant acronym. But bad on the other 534 members of Congress for having not beaten him to it. (Hawley, the Missouri Republican, had introduced legislation last year that sought to ban lawmakers and their spouses from holding stocks or making new transactions while in office, to no avail.)

Twelve years ago, investigative journalist Peter Schweizer published a book titled Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison. The title says it all.

Chapter 3 of Schweizer’s book — let’s call it “the Nancy Pelosi chapter” — covers how then-speaker Pelosi and her husband Paul struck it rich even richer when, in early 2008, they bought between $1 million and $5 million of Visa stock just prior to the company’s initial public offering of stock. As, er, luck would have it, the Visa IPO was one of the most lucrative in American history, netting the Pelosis a nearly instantaneous 50% profit.

Why didn’t any of us get in on that sweet deal? Because we couldn’t. As Schweizer writes: “Getting access to this IPO was virtually impossible for the average individual investor. MarketWatch and other news organizations reported that the IPO was 'oversubscribed.’” In other words, virtually all the shares were going to the big dogs — the institutional investors, the big mutual funds, and the like. Somehow, though, the Pelosis got in on it. And within two days of their investment, those $44 shares of Visa were trading at $65.

Is this a great country or what?

Since that time, Nancy and Paul’s stock-picking “luck” has only improved. A year ago, we noted a New York Post report on the remarkable timing of the Pelosis’ investment in industries that had legislation pending within the House of Representatives: “Late last month, the House Speaker disclosed that the Pelosis scooped up millions in bullish call options for stocks including Google, Salesforce, Micron Technology, and Roblox. At the same, some insiders say she has slow-walked efforts to rein in Big Tech.”

The Pelosis’ impeccable investing continued last year, soon after the House had passed a bill allocating $52 billion for the semiconductor chip industry. As our Nate Jackson reported: “Paul Pelosi, fresh off a DUI charge at the end of May, recently cashed out some investments and purchased others. The interesting thing isn’t something normal Americans do every day; it’s that he bought up to $5 million (20,000 shares) in a computer chip company set to cash in on major federal subsidies.”

Fascinating, no? And now that Pelosi is no longer speaker, no longer in control of the legislative agenda, Joe Biden is calling for a bipartisan effort to rein in Big Tech. Yes, the same Joe Biden who has benefited immensely from his administration’s collusion with Big Tech now wants to do the right thing.

If the Department of “Justice” were ever to do its job and rein in this corruption, it may not have a better opportunity than the one that presented itself this week. As The Washington Free Beacon reports, Team Pelosi “sold up to $3 million in shares of Google in recent weeks — just before the Biden Justice Department launched an antitrust probe of the tech giant.”

What? Didn’t everyone know the Biden administration was going to break up Google?

Will Hawley’s bill will go anywhere in the Democrat-controlled Senate? It’s hard to say. But it seems that a “No” vote would be hard to explain to one’s constituents, at least on the merits.

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