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Nancy Pelosi responds to husband's eyebrow-raising stock purchase — then Sen. Josh Hawley hits back with proposal

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Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

The office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded on Monday to a controversial stock transaction that Paul Pelosi made last month.

What did Paul Pelosi do?

Paul Pelosi purchased between $1 million and $5 million of NVIDIA stock in mid-June.

The company specializes in designing and selling computer technologies that use semiconductor chips. NVIDIA uses fabless manufacturing, which means the company outsources the fabrication of the semiconductor chips themselves.

What made the transaction newsworthy is that it came weeks before Congress is expected to vote on a bipartisan legislation that would allocate $52 billion in taxpayer subsidies to help boost domestic production of semiconductor chips. Competing with China to produce the technology became a priority when the COVID-19 pandemic exposed American dependence upon Chinese production.

How did Speaker Pelosi's office respond?

Speaker Pelosi's office released a lengthy statement denying Speaker Pelosi had any involvement in the transaction.

"The Speaker does not own any stocks. As you can see from the required disclosures, with which the Speaker fully cooperates, these transactions are marked ‘SP’ for Spouse," said spokesman Drew Hammill. "The Speaker has no prior knowledge or subsequent involvement in any transactions."

The statement added, according to Fox Business:

The Speaker believes that sunlight is the best disinfectant. The Speaker has asked Committee on House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren to examine the issue of Members’ unacceptable noncompliance with the reporting requirements in the STOCK Act, including the possibility of stiffening penalties.

To be clear, insider trading is already a serious federal criminal and civil violation and the Speaker strongly supports robust enforcement of the relevant statutes by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Speaker led the House in passing the bipartisan Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act, which would subject federal judges to similar disclosure requirements as those in the STOCK Act. President Biden signed this bill into law in May.

Anything else?

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) responded to the statement by stating that congressional spouses should be banned from trading stocks.

"Ban stock trading by members of Congress & their spouses," Hawley said. "Call it the Pelosi Act."

Pelosi, however, made it clear last December that she wants congressional spouses to be able to participate in stock trading.

At a press conference, a reporter asked Pelosi whether both members of Congress and their spouses should be legally barred from trading individual stocks. Not only did Pelosi scoff at the idea, but she defended such participation.

"No, I don't ... because this is a free market and people — we are a free market economy," Pelosi said. "They should be able to participate in that."

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