Insider trading is morally wrong and illegal. People go to jail for it. The risks to one’s reputation and freedom outweigh the money that can be made.
The risks are a lot lower if you’re a member of Congress though. Members of both parties and both chambers routinely buy and sell shares of stocks based on their insider knowledge of pending legislative decisions and regulations likely to go through.
The good people at Unusual Whales exposed how Congress critters like Democrat ex-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of California and former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky made a fortune after decades in politics. Unusual Whales sparked a call for bans on stock trading by members of Congress (none of which have come to fruition) and a lot of bad publicity for the lawmakers cashing in on their privileged info.
More lawmakers are reporting their financial transactions sooner than before. They’re intent on playing the market still but at the very least are being more transparent about their moves. And fewer members of Congress are playing the market.
Whose stock moves are worth keeping an eye on?
For 2023, 100 members of Congress (100 Senators, 435 House members) traded. A third of the trading lawmakers outperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.
A handful of lawmakers beat the S&P 500 by wide margins. Here are the top 10 stock wizards according to Unusual Whales’ data:
- Representative Brian Higgins (D – New York)
- Rep. Mark Green (R – Tennessee)
- Rep. Garrett Graves (R – Louisiana)
- Rep. David Rouzer (R – North Carolina)
- Rep. Seth Moulton (D – Massachusetts)
- Senator Ron Wyden (D – Oregon)
- Rep. John Rutherford (R – Florida)
- Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D – Connecticut)
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D – California)
- Rep. Pete Sessions (D – Texas)
Pelosi and husband Paul increased their personal wealth by $140 million since she first became House Speaker in 2008. Unusual Whales has tracked numerous stock transactions that paid off for the couple and which Paul made while Nancy was on Capitol Hill. Pelosi announced she’s retiring from Congress when her term ends in December.
Unusual Whales notes Democrats do better as a whole than their GOP counterparts because they hold onto their portfolios longer. Some members of Congress bought up shares of “war stocks” like Raytheon and Northrop Grumman two weeks before Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.