Days before the House of Representatives took its first votes on legislation to break up big technology companies, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul Pelosi exercised a call option and bought 4,000 shares of stock in Google parent Alphabet, worth nearly $5 million.
The Alphabet investment was disclosed this morning in a periodic transaction report that shows Paul Pelosi also bought call options in stocks of other tech companies that could be affected by the antitrust bills. Pelosi purchased Amazon call options worth between $500,001 and $1 million, Apple call options worth between $100,001 and $250,000, and NVIDIA call options worth between $1 million and $5 million. The call options, which expired on June 17, gave Pelosi the ability to buy these stocks at specified levels, but unlike the Alphabet options they do not appear to have been exercised.
On June 24, the House Judiciary Committee approved a sweeping package of six antitrust bills designed to limit the market power of dominant tech companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google, and enhance competition on their platforms. The legislation emerged after a 16-month investigation by the House antitrust subcommittee, and was advanced out of committee in a process of two weeks from introduction through markup. Committee leadership including ranking member Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) told CNBC they expect more work to be done on the bills before they are moved to the full House for votes.
While the reforms attracted bipartisan support in the House committee, their fate in the full House and Senate is less certain. The Ending Platform Monopolies Act (H.R. 3825), addressing the ability to break up dominant tech platforms, squeaked through the markup process by a vote of 21-20, with several Democrats from tech-industry heavy California voting nay. The bill would allow federal regulators to sue over “irreconcilable conflicts of interest” in tech companies’ operations of huge platforms, potentially affecting giants like Google’s YouTube, and was fought last month in a lobbying blitz by tech industry trade associations like the new Chamber of Progress, founded by a former Google lobbyist.
Pelosi purchased the Alphabet stock on June 18, according to the disclosure.
In March, the House Rules Committee, which is closely controlled by Pelosi, blocked votes on amendments to the For the People Act to rein in congressional stock trading, including an amendment from Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Abigail Spanberger (D-Va,) that would have required senators and representatives, their spouses, and their dependent children to put stocks and other covered investments into blind trusts until after they are out of office.
Paul Pelosi is one of the most prolific stock traders among congressional spouses. So far this year he has purchased stock in companies including Tesla, Walt Disney, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, according to disclosures filed by the Speaker.
The Pelosis were worth nearly $115 million as of 2018, according to OpenSecrets, a dramatic increase from the $24 million the couple was estimated by OpenSecrets to be worth in 2008, shortly after Nancy initially took the gavel as the Speaker of the House.
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