US lawmakers traded $631 million worth of securities in 2021, with Democrats favoring

Pelosi holds gavel next to Kevin McCarthy
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) at the U.S. Capitol in January 2019.

  • US lawmakers and their immediate families traded $631 million worth of securities in 2021, DealBook reported Friday. 
  • Cryptocurrency purchases surged, Democrats flocked to tech stocks and Republicans bought energy shares. 
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has rejected the idea of banning Congress members from trading.

US lawmakers and their immediate family members traded more than $630 million worth of stocks and other financial assets in 2021, according to the New York Times’ DealBook, highlighting what critics of such activity say is a conflict of interest between private dealings and public influence over legislation. 

Included in DealBook’s report published Friday were findings that congressional trades in stock options doubled in value and cryptocurrency purchases soared. Overall, politicians and their immediate families purchased $267 million and sold $364 million worth of assets, with the information compiled by researchers at Capitol Trades for DealBook. The figures were lower than in 2020. 

Roughly 60% of the trades were in company stocks, with the rest split among funds, bonds and other assets. Republicans bought $100 million worth of stocks and Democrats purchased $75 million worth of stocks, according to the average of ranges lawmakers provide in official disclosures. 

DealBook’s report arrived two days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the idea of barring members of Congress and their spouses from trading stocks.

“We are a free-market economy. They should be able to participate in that,” Pelosi said in responding to Insider at her weekly press conference

DealBook found that crypto buying among legislators and their families rocketed higher, with total purchases of about $300,000 compared with $16,000 a year earlier. Republicans accounted for almost all of the crypto trades, the report said. The cryptocurrency market had a notable 2021, surpassing $3 trillion in valuation for the first time as more institutions and individual investors piled into the market. Prices have cooled somewhat, bringing the market’s valuation to $2.3 trillion, according to CoinGecko. 

Democrats flocked to tech stocks, accounting for about $35 million, or nearly half of all purchases by the group, and Microsoft was the most popular trade. Meanwhile, Republicans engaged in energy shares. They bought $32 million worth of stock in companies in that sector, or about a third of all purchases compared with 1% for Democrats.

DealBook said congressional trades in stock options doubled in value, to about $26 million, in line with a surge in options trading by retail investors that’s spurred scrutiny among regulators and lawmakers. 

Insider this week also asked Pelosi about Conflicted Congress, the publication’s five-month-long investigation that found that 49 members of Congress and 182 senior congressional staffers had violated the STOCK Act, a law to prevent insider trading.

Pelosi said she hadn’t yet seen the project, but said it’s important that members comply with the law.


Read More:US lawmakers traded $631 million worth of securities in 2021, with Democrats favoring