Congress and Insider Trading


Photo by Gagan Cambow

Brian Fortin, Contributing Writer

On January 23, 2020, the Senate was briefed on the COVID-19 outbreak and its possible lasting impacts on Americans and the economy. Several days after the meeting, Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and her husband Jeffrey Loeffler, the CEO and Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, purchased millions of dollars worth of stocks in health-related companies. This practice of buying stocks with private information is known as insider trading, and it has been a common political scandal and form of corruption both within the U.S. and on the international level.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) began an investigation on the Loefflers, as well as on the other members of Congress involved. The SEC is an independent agency of the federal government, formed after the Wall Street crash of 1929 to investigate infractions and enforce laws against market manipulation. The SEC’s investigation of Loeffler came to a close in late May 2020 and no charges were filed. Loeffler also has denied all claims and accusations.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has also been accused of insider trading after she made millions off technology-related stocks. The SEC is currently investigating her numerous purchases yet Pelosi has vehemently denied the claim meanwhile she and her husband have continued to invest millions of dollars into companies such as Disney, Roblox, and Google. She has reportedly made upwards of $30 million on her stock trading, adding to her $106 million net worth. The SEC continues their investigation.

Many online have begun to mock Pelosi’s remarkable stock record, saying that the way to make money might be to copy what she has invested in. Besides her recent investments into Disney, Roblox, and Google, Pelosi has also invested in Salesforce, Micron Technology, and Microsoft. All these stocks have done exceptionally well in the market since Pelosi’s acquisition.

In January, Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) drafted a letter proposing that all forms of stock trading or owning should be banned for members of Congress. The letter was signed off on by 27 Representatives who urged Pelosi to propose a bill restricting stock trading for members of Congress. Pelosi pushed back, saying, “We’re a free-market economy; [and members of Congress] should be able to participate in that.” However, Pelosi has very recently said that she would be in support of a bill if members of Congress could still trade in some capacity. In recent weeks, Congress has moved to pass the bills — with Pelosi reportedly giving then a green light. Many different bills have been proposed, with an unlikely partnership emerging between Massachusetts democrat Elizabeth Warren and Montana republican Senator Steve Daines. Daines has said, “When you’re elected, you’re here to serve the people, not the elite, and I think [a stock trading ban] is a step forward, an important step forward, to restore the faith and trust of the American people in this institution.” Opponents claim that the bill will hinder the best candidates from wanting to run for office, but this opinion hasn’t gained much traction.

Members of Congress are required to report all stock transactions under the STOCK Act of 2012, yet upwards of 52 members have been caught in violation of this act. A listing of stocks held by members of Congress is available online here: