As a Capitol Hill vote looms this week on a controversial, $52 billion subsidy to chipmakers, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband quietly offloaded a chunk of shares in semiconductor giant Nvidia, according to public filings.
Paul Pelosi sold the $5 million trove of shares Tuesday at a loss of more than $300,000. It’s unclear whether the couple sold their entire stake or just a portion of it. They could still own as much as $6.5 million in Nvidia, according to congresstrading.com.
Meanwhile, the Pelosis still hold a stake in semiconductor company Micron worth as much as $500,000, filings show.
The Nvidia selloff is a dramatic reversal for the Pelosis. Paul began snapping up semiconductor stocks in June 2021 — the same month the first draft of the bill was introduced. He bought between $2.75 million and $11.5 million over the past year and has been actively trading these shares the entire time the bill has wended its way through Congress.
Just last month as the bill moved towards a vote, now slated for Thursday in the House, Pelosi bought between $1 million and $5 million more in Nvidia shares.
The numbers aren’t clear because members of Congress are only required to list wide ranges in dollar values of their stocks rather than precise figures. They can also use more complex financial instruments like options to get exposure to stocks without holding shares.
“All this shows is she and her husband are still actively trading,” Walter Shaub, senior ethics fellow at the Project on Government Oversight, told On the Money. “Wait until we see where she puts the money … will she buy more stock and create another conflict of interest?”
LIkewise, skeptics aren’t satisfied by the fact the couple lost money on the chip stock purchases.
“It raises questions… it’s impossible to know what he heard when — and what his theory of his trade was,” said Jeff Hauser, founder and director of the progressive group Revolving Door Project. “The reason we should have a clean rule that members of Congress and their spouses don’t trade stocks is so that we don’t have to infer his state of mind.”
“Saying ‘I didn’t profit off my conflict of interest’ isn’t a defense,” Shaub adds.
A representative for the Speaker denied any impropriety.
“Mr. Pelosi bought options to buy stock in this company more than a year ago and exercised them on June 17, 2022,” the flack said. “As always, he does not discuss these matters with the Speaker until trades have been made and required disclosures must be prepared and filed. Mr. Pelosi decided to sell the shares at a loss rather than allow the misinformation in the press regarding this trade to continue.”
The legislation, which just cleared the Senate and is headed to the House, aims to address the semiconductor chip shortage — a crucial piece of technology needed for electronic products ranging from cars to microwaves.
Months after the bill was first introduced in June 2021 by Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), R&D companies banded together in February to push for the same benefits manufacturers were getting. In March, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) introduced an updated bill that if incorporated will benefit companies in research and development like Nvidia.
Speaker Pelosi has final say over whether or not the changes McCaul proposed are included in the final bill but at this point the legislation is not expected to benefit Nvidia.
Under the STOCK Act, which was passed in 2012 and is the only legislation that reins in lawmakers’ trades, most members of Congress are still free to make trades that could conflict with their legislative duties — as long as they disclose the information within 45 days.
Over the last year the Pelosis have come under scrutiny for scooping up millions in call options for stocks including Google, Salesforce, Micron Technology and Roblox.