Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) disclosed a sale of 30,000 shares in Google’s parent company, Alphabet, roughly one month before the Justice Department opened an antitrust lawsuit into the technology firm.
Federal regulators claimed in the Tuesday complaint that Google monopolizes the tools website publishers use to sell advertisements and that companies utilize to purchase advertisements. Pelosi, who resigned from her leadership position but remains a member of Congress, sold 10,000 shares of Alphabet Class A stock on December 20, December 21, and December 28, according to federal disclosures, marking a combined transaction value between $1.5 million and $3 million. The disclosures were digitally signed by the lawmaker on January 12.
Although shares for Google have increased roughly 8% over the past month, the company’s stock price declined some 6% this week as news of the antitrust lawsuit became public.
Officials claimed that Google has engaged in a “pattern of acquisitions to obtain control over key digital advertising tools” and has manipulated auctions to “deprive rivals of scale.” Such moves may violate the Sherman Act, which outlaws “monopolization, attempted monopolization, or conspiracy or combination to monopolize” deemed unreasonable by the court system. Google said in a statement that the Justice Department lawsuit attempts to “pick winners and losers” in the “highly competitive” advertising technology space.
Pelosi and her husband, Paul, have been repeatedly accused of leveraging insider knowledge that the veteran lawmaker holds in order to increase earnings in the stock market. The filing also revealed that the top Democrat sold shares of Netflix, PayPal, Salesforce, Tesla, and Disney.
Paul Pelosi appeared to have cut losses in software company Nvidia last year before the United States placed new restrictions on computer chip sales to China and Russia. He sold 25,000 shares of Nvidia on July 26 at an average price of $165.05, causing a loss of $341,365, according to a set of disclosures. One month later, Nvidia revealed that the government imposed export restrictions on the company’s A100 and forthcoming H100 circuits. The new regulations will “address the risk that the covered products may be used in, or diverted to, a ‘military end use’ or ‘military end user’ in China and Russia,” Nvidia said in a regulatory filing.
The couple has also placed stock market bets in the middle of heated policy debates in Congress. In 2021, Paul Pelosi bought over $6 million in options contracts related to technology stocks while lawmakers worked on antitrust legislation.
Asset purchases from members of Congress and their immediate families amounted to $267 million in 2021, according to a report from the New York Times’ DealBook, while sales amounted to $364 million. Officials working at the Federal Reserve have also faced criticism for purchasing individual stocks amid their work to chart the nation’s monetary policy.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) recently introduced the Preventing Elected Leaders from Owning Securities and Investments Act, also known as the PELOSI Act, in order to address the phenomenon of lawmakers using inside information to benefit financially. The legislation would ban politicians from holding individual stocks, diversified mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds. “For too long, politicians in Washington have taken advantage of the economic system they write the rules for, turning profits for themselves at the expense of the American people,” Hawley said in a news release.