Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic representative and former House Speaker from California, has long been of interest to those who trade stocks.
With an estimated net worth of $114 million as of 2018, according to OpenSecrets, a nonprofit that tracks money in politics, Pelosi is one of the richest members of Congress.
But how did Pelosi gain all that wealth? And why are amateur stock traders so interested in the 83-year-old politician’s financial position?
Nancy Pelosi’s salary as a politician
Pelosi’s political career has spanned over three decades. Entering Congress in 1987, Pelosi’s salary has fluctuated alongside her ever-evolving tenure. At first, Pelosi earned $89,500 per year, the salary all members of Congress were paid at the time.
While serving as House Speaker, the congresswoman earned $223,500 per year. But even adding up all the money earned by Pelosi during her decades in politics, the sum total does not come anywhere near her current estimated net worth. So where did the rest of the money come from?
How did Nancy Pelosi get her wealth?
Pelosi’s husband, Paul, for starters, runs a prominent financial leasing service and reportedly does all of the stock trading for the pair. Together, the two have invested countless millions in numerous sectors such as real estate. A home and vineyard owned by Pelosi in Napa, California, according to USA TODAY, was worth between $5 million and $25 million as of 2019 and “generated between $100,001 and $1 million in income from grape sales.”
Pelosi also owns numerous other properties, has formed several business partnerships, and has a significant stock holding. So what is it about Pelosi’s stocks that have garnered so much interest?
Nancy Pelosi’s stock holdings
The fascination with Pelosi’s stock holdings is similar to those of any other politician.
The American public has long suspected that members of Congress use their power and knowledge to give them an edge in the stock market.
In just one example, Pelosi received backlash last year after her husband exercised call options to buy 20,000 shares worth $5 million from the U.S.-based chipmaker Nvidia. The move was made just weeks before the House considered a bill that sought to provide $50 billion in subsidies to domestic semiconductor manufacturers such as Nvidia.
Pelosi has repeatedly denied providing her husband with inside information to influence his stock purchases.
A Pelosi spokesperson told NPR in 2021 that the congresswoman does not personally own any stocks and that all transactions are made by Paul.
“The Speaker has no prior knowledge or subsequent involvement in any transactions,” the spokesperson said.
When asked in 2021 if she would support a ban on stock trading in Congress, Pelosi vehemently said “no” before eventually agreeing months later. As of now, Congress has still not been barred from trading stocks.
Tracking Nancy Pelosi’s stocks
Regardless of Pelosi’s claims, some stock traders have begun to monitor and emulate stock trades made by Pelosi’s husband.
Twitter accounts such as Nancy Pelosi Stock Tracker inform users of all Pelosi-related trading activities and have even built an app that copies their trades automatically.
“Our goal with exposing all this is simple: To get politicians banned from trading individual stocks,” the account says in a pinned tweet.
The Twitter account claims that Pelosi’s stock value has jumped 31 percent this year, due to significant holdings in Tesla, Apple, and the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike.
The account is just one of countless that lets users follow in Pelosi’s footsteps in an apparent attempt to cash in. Other services such as Quiver Quantitative likewise offer ways for individuals to monitor and emulate the trading practices not only of Pelosi but of any representative or senator involved in trading.
The founder of the popular subreddit WallStreetBets also introduced a tool known as “Insider Portfolio” that mimics the trades of Pelosi in an effort to “share the wealth.”
Is it safe to follow Nancy Pelosi’s lead in the stock market?
While many may view the strategy of copying Pelosi as a surefire way to garner wealth—many have warned, such as Kedric Payne, senior director of ethics at the Campaign Legal Center—that such practices are indicative of a growing distrust among the public of elected officials.
“If the situation is that the public has lost so much trust in government that they think … the stock trades of members are based on corruption, and that [following that] corruption could benefit [them] … We have a significant problem,” Payne told NPR last year.
Yet data on whether mimicking trades made by lawmakers suggests that it isn’t clear whether the strategy is a good idea. Studies conducted over the years have shown that members of Congress often make both lucrative and poor stock trades.
Either way, the obsession with the stocks of Pelosi and other government officials isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.