Pelosi Opposes Ban on Lawmakers Trading Stocks as Her Family Makes Millions on the Market

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is defending lawmakers' ability to own stocks as some progressives call for the practice to be banned for those who hold elected office.

At her weekly news conference on Wednesday, Pelosi said she was against prohibiting lawmakers from owning and trading individual stocks.

"We are a free market economy," she said. "They should be able to participate in that."

Several Democrats disagree with the speaker, including Senators Jeff Merkley and Elizabeth Warren, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted last week that it's "absolutely ludicrous" that sitting members of Congress can trade individual stock.

"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," the New York Democrat wrote.

Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, introduced legislation earlier this year to ban sitting congressional members and their senior aides from buying and selling stocks, most bonds, and options contracts. The bill garnered support from both sides of the aisle.

Pelosi's husband Paul has made millions on the market. Bloomberg reported in July that the speaker's husband banked $5 million after acquiring 4,000 shares of Google-parent company Alphabet.

Pelosi Opposes Ban on Lawmakers Trading Stock
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday she wants lawmakers to be able to own and trade individual stocks. In this photo, Pelosi talks to reporters during her weekly news conference in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on December 15, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A spokesperson for the California Democrat told Bloomberg that she doesn't own any stock herself, and had no involvement in her husband's activity.

According to House Stock Watcher, Pelosi has so far disclosed 48 transactions made by her family worth more than $50 million. The online database of lawmakers' stock activity is compiled by software engineer Timothy Carambat.

Pelosi is currently one of the 25 wealthiest members of Congress, according to Business Insider—though, an OpenSecrets report found that nearly half of members of the 116th Congress were millionaires.

Newsweek reached out to Pelosi's office for comment.

Last year, several lawmakers were highly criticized for stock trades they made in the lead-up to the coronavirus pandemic.

North Carolina Senator Richard Burr and his brother are being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over whether they violated law by selling stocks based on information that was not available to the public and that Burr had obtained through his elected position. Burr allegedly sold $1.65 million in stock on February 13, 2020, after lawmakers were briefed on the emerging global health crisis, according to court filings by the SEC.

Burr has defended the sale and said he based his decision on publicly available information at the time.

The Justice Department also investigated Republicans Kelly Loeffler and Jim Inhofe, as well as Democrat Dianne Feinsten over possible insider trading but the agency ultimately closed the cases against them.