The House truly always wins.
More than two dozen members of Congress beat the stock market last year despite Wall Street suffering its worst year since 2008, according to an analysis by a stock-trading site.
But there was one notable loser last year: Nancy Pelosi. The former House speaker’s portfolio dropped 19.8% in 2022 — worse than the 18.2% decline in an ETF SPY, +2.29% that tracks the S&P 500, according to the 100-page report by Unusual Whales.
Topping the list of winners was Rep. Patrick Fallon, a Texas Republican, who made 51.6% on his investments in 2022, according to the data. Right behind him was Florida Democrat Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, with a 50.8% spike, the report indicated.
Fallon’s most lucrative bet was on Twitter. He snatched up as much as $150,000 in the social-media company’s shares in January 2022 and flipped it after Elon Musk went public with his Twitter takeover plan — making as much as $75,000, according to the Unusual Whales analysis.
The Texan strongly pushed back against the analysis by Unusual Whales.
“My active stock portfolio in 2022 lost nearly $600,000 in value (a loss of 20%). Anyone that says otherwise is dead wrong,” Fallon told the New York Post in a statement on Friday. “Like many Americans, I have been kicked in the teeth by the market over the past two years.”
Wasserman-Schultz, a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, made her biggest gains on shares of an energy company. She purchased as much as $45,000 in shares of Patterson-UTI Energy PTEN, +1.02%, which provides drilling and pressure pumping services for energy sources — services that jumped in value as oil prices surged.
Wasserman-Schultz representatives did not respond to request for comment.
The Usual Whales report relied on financial disclosure forms filed by 131 — or 24% — of the 535 members of Congress who reported trading activity in 2022. The members of the House and Senate traded as much as $788 million in equities last year, a dip from the roughly $918 million in 2021, the data show.
Overall, Democrats lost 1.76%, on average, on their investments, while Republicans gained 0.4%, according to the data.
The report showed that Rep. Michael McCaul, another Texas Republican, made more than 1,600 transactions worth as much as $176 million, while Rep. Diana Harshbarger, a Tennessee Republican, made over 1,000 transactions worth as much as $21 million.
Among the top stocks purchased were Apple ($6.3 million, in aggregate, across all members of Congress whose reported transactions were included in the report) AAPL, +3.68%, Disney ($6.25 million) DIS, +2.18%, Google parent Alphabet ($6.2 million) GOOG, +1.60% GOOGL, +1.32%, Musk’s electric-car company Tesla ($6.08 million) TSLA, +2.47% and tech giant Nvidia ($5.68 million) NVDA, +4.16%, while top stocks sold included Visa ($11.2 million) V, +3.15%, Nvidia ($6.35 million) NVDA, +4.16%, Exxon Mobil ($5.32 million) XOM, +1.21%, pharmaceutical titan Eli Lilly ($5.21 million) LLY, +1.12% and Microsoft ($3.4 million) MSFT, +1.18%.
The required financial disclosure reports are notoriously opaque. The filings allow members of Congress to obscure their net worths by listing value ranges rather than precise figures.
The windfall for many in Congress comes as multiple bills cracking down on trading continue to languish despite many in the House and Senate promising to push them through.
The only rule currently governing trades is the STOCK Act, which was passed in 2012 and was intended to rein in lawmakers’ trading activity. Under that legislation, most members of Congress are still free to make the trades that could conflict with their legislative duties — as long as they disclose the information within 45 days.
“Speaker Pelosi promised to make changes a year ago … and it’s been nothing but lip service,” one senior GOP aide told the Post. “Meanwhile you have multiple members of Congress continuing to get inside information and a lot of them are profiting massively — either buying or getting out of stocks and it’s still hurting the average Joe.”
Pelosi had, with her husband, San Francisco investment professional Paul Pelosi, reported impressive returns in both 2021 and 2020, as tech stocks surged. But the sector cratered in 2022 as the Fed increased interest rates.
“While she didn’t pass legislation unfavorable to tech companies, she clearly didn’t have any influence over the rate hikes that destroyed tech,” Thomas Hayes, founder of Great Hill Capital, reportedly told the New York Post. “The headwinds of the Fed made Paul Pelosi a mere mortal like the rest of us.”
From the archives (November 2022): House Democratic caucus confers ‘speaker emerita’ title on Pelosi as Jeffries takes up party leadership reins
The data scientist behind the Unusual Whales account was quick to note “this is one bad year and Pelosi’s general strategy has worked plenty, especially in 2020-2021.”
Republican Kevin McCarthy, who was narrowly elected speaker of the House early Saturday, has promised to introduce legislation banning stock trades.
Washington Watch (May 2022): It’s crunch time for the push to ban Congress from trading stocks
Last year, the New York Post reported that Pelosi and her husband had made as much as $30 million from bets on tech stocks, including options plays, during her decades in Congress. She was initially dismissive of efforts to bar congressional stock trades, observing that members should be as free as the general public to participate in U.S. capitalism, but later suggested she was warming to the notion.
Capital gains and dividends from the Pelosis’ holdings in just five companies — Facebook parent Meta Platforms META, +2.43%, Alphabet, Amazon AMZN, +3.56%, Apple and Microsoft — reaped at least $5.6 million and up to $30.4 million in gains between 2007 and 2020, according to an analysis of publicly available disclosures reportedly shared with the New York Post.
And the Pelosis’ overall portfolio — which also included companies like Disney and Roblox RBLX, -3.67% — beat the S&P 500 by 4.9 percentage points in 2019 and 14.3 in 2020, according to data crunched for the New York Post by FinePrint, which says it is advocating for greater transparency into financial holdings on both sides of the aisle.
“It just shows that the factors that impact a stocks performance are often broader than American public policy especially legislation,” Jeff Hauser, founder of the Revolving Door Project, said. “Tech had a good year in 2022 from the standpoint of Congress, but the Federal Reserve was catastrophic for tech … trading solely off what was happening in Congress wouldn’t help you predict the stock price.”