Republican Senator Josh Hawley (Missouri) last week introduced the PELOSI Act (the Preventing Elected Leaders from Owning Securities and Investments Act), which requires members and their spouses to divest any holdings or put them in a blind trust within six months of entering office. Hawley tweeted:
"Members of Congress and their spouses shouldn't be using their position to get rich on the stock market – today l'm introducing legislation to BAN stock trading & ownership by members of Congress. I call it the PELOSI Act."
And in other public comments Tuesday, the GOP lawmaker said hardworking Americans "pay the price" when Wall Street and Big Tech "work hand-in-hand with elected officials to enrich each other" through the buying and selling of stocks. "The solution is clear," he added: "We must immediately and permanently ban all members of Congress from trading stocks."
Gary Bauer, chairman of the Campaign for Working Families, tells AFN that Hawley's bill is timely.
"I think in an age where there is so much cynicism anyway and where the average guy feels like the system is rigged against him, that at this point it probably is advisable to severely limit, if not ban, stock trading by elected members of Congress," says Bauer. "And I think it's a very creative act by Senator Hawley to name his bill the PELOSI Act, given that she's done so well with her stock trades."
As Fox News points out, it was revealed last year that Nancy Pelosi and her husband, Paul, traded between $1 million and $5 million of stocks for semiconductors just days before Congress allocated $52 million to the industry. The stocks were later sold at a loss to remove the appearance of impropriety.
But while Bauer supports Hawley's objectives, he also concedes the bill is unlikely to become law – and not just because Senate Democrats (who hold the majority) aren't going to want to go along with a bill introduced by a Republican senator.
"In addition to that there are a lot of elected officials in both parties who regularly trade stock on the stock exchange and are allowed to do so under the current regulation," he explains. "So, it's not like they're violating the law right now, which is why there's a need to pass a law that would put some restrictions on what can be done."
Under current law, business leaders and everyday Americans are prohibited from using nonpublic information for private profit (aka "insider trading"). Hawley's bill would amend that law to require specific government officials to file a report that includes the source, type, and value of income gained from any source other than their current employment. It would apply to the president and vice president of the United States, specific executive branch employees, the postmaster general, some civilian employees, certain members of Congress, and judicial officers.