House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) millionaire husband, Paul, is making headlines and stirring controversy over the staggering $5.3 million in profits he made on stock options linked to Alphabet, parent company of Google, at a time when Congress was considering a series of antitrust measures likely to affect its fortunes and those of and other tech giants, as Forbes reports.
The story began gaining traction when Bloomberg News featured a report on the transactions and their curious timing, and referenced their appearance in a required financial disclosure form signed by the speaker herself and filed on July 2. Notably, that story was subheadlined, “Action was week before House panel considered antitrust bills,” and the regulations contained in those bills were trained on companies such as Google, Apple, and Amazon.
Thus, the timing of Pelosi’s market maneuvers raised eyebrows almost immediately, given the House Judiciary Committee’s impending votes on bills that would, among other things, attempt to mitigate the company’s market power or break them up altogether.
As Forbes noted, in the aftermath of a series of potentially questionable stock transactions by members of Congress in the run-up to the coronavirus pandemic, watchdogs have paid extra attention to the routine financial disclosures of lawmakers, including Pelosi.
The transactions that have prompted the current firestorm involved 40 Alphabet call options with a strike price of $1,200, and these were exercised by Pelosi on June 18, shortly in advance of a meeting of the relevant House subcommittee.
His options afforded Pelosi the ability to convert the options to 4,000 shares at the strike price, which was considerably lower than the $2,550 per share price prevailing at the time, yielding a considerable increase in value for the longtime investor.
Forbes points out that Pelosi did not have much of a choice as to whether to exercise the options, as they had an expiration date of June 18, and if he had not acted, his brokerage likely would have, regardless.
Even so, the entire outcome represents a significant boon to the Pelosi family finances, and it is easy to see why it raised more than a few suspicions of trading on inside Beltway scuttlebutt to turn a huge profit.
In response to questions over Mr. Pelosi’s massive stock market success at a most curious time, Drew Hamill, a spokesperson for the California Democrat said simply, “The speaker has no involvement or prior knowledge of these transactions.” Whether any further probes of Paul Pelosi’s trades are ultimately initiated, only time will tell, but the outward appearance of impropriety is hard to deny.