By Mike Murphy
In a reversal from previous comments, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she was open to banning stock trades by members of Congress.
Her change of heart appeared grudging, though.
“I have great confidence in the integrity of my members. They are remarkable. So when people talk about well, somebody might do this and somebody, I trust our members,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill. “To give a blanket attitude of we can’t do this and we can’t do that because we can’t be trusted, I just don’t buy into that. But if members want to do that, I’m OK with that.”
The California Democrat has defended the ability of lawmakers to freely trade stocks. Last month, it was revealed that her husband, Paul Pelosi, stood to substantially gain from the purchase of call options on a number of major companies, including Google parent Alphabet Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite GOOGL +1.77% /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG +1.66% and the Walt Disney Co. /zigman2/quotes/203410047/composite DIS +3.29% , if their share prices continue to rise.
While critics have decried potential conflicts of interest if lawmakers use inside knowledge to profit from stock trades, Pelosi argued in December that “We are a free-market economy. They should be able to participate in that.”
Last week, Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona and Jon Ossoff of Georgia introduced legislation that would ban members of Congress, their spouses and dependent children from trading individual stocks while in office, and would require putting their holdings into blind trusts.