Automotive

Nancy Pelosi Buying Tesla Stock Options Isn’t Illegal, But It’s Not Great, Either


Illustration for article titled Nancy Pelosi Buying Tesla Stock Options Isnt Illegal, But Its Not Great, Either

Screenshot: Tesla, House.gov

There’s a lot of fascinating things happening in the strangely made-up world of the stock market lately, and there’s a lot going on politically. Also, cars, specifically, electric cars. Lots going on everywhere, really, which is why I think it’s worth taking a moment to talk about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s purchase of a lot of “call options” of Tesla stock, and how we feel about it.

So, here’s what’s going on: a disclosure filing has revealed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) purchased “25 call options with a stake price of $500 and an expiration date of 3/18/2022.”

What this means (to be clear, I’m not a financial expert here by any means—my idea of a good investment is putting the case of beer on the bottom shelf of the shopping cart and hoping nobody notices it) is that Pelosi has a contract where she can buy, with no obligation, shares of Tesla stock at a set price before the expiration date, and these options cost her between $500,000 and one million dollars.

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It’s enough to say it’s potentially an awful lot of stock in Tesla, a company that makes electric cars.

This is worth mentioning because the Biden administration has announced plans to dramatically increase adoption of EVs, including plans for 500,000 new charging stations by 2030 and other EV-encouraging legislation. There’s even plans for more electric school buses, something I think is particularly smart.

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Now, anyone could see the lightning writing on the walls here and realize that there’s likely to be a lot of growth for EVs coming up in the immediate future. Smart people with resources may very well choose to buy stocks in companies that build electric cars, like Tesla.

Nancy Pelosi is smart and has money, so it’s not shocking she made this decision. But, she’s also part of the government that makes the bigger decisions that make her stock-buying decision smart, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

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While Pelosi’s purchase isn’t particularly sinister, there have been recent cases of senators buying and selling stocks that feel much worse, like the four that sold a bunch of stock just after learning about the scale of the COVID-19 epidemic, but before most mainstream Americans understood it.

That feels a lot shadier, but there’s still something about this Tesla stock options purchase that feels wrong. The increased EV adoption is good in general, and I’m not against people making money, but if you’re part of the organization that makes laws that can affect, say, how many EVs get sold, I don’t think you should also get to profit from that, since the possibility for abuse is, unsurprisingly, huge.

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We have far bigger political problems going on right now, no question, but at some point this feels like something that should be addressed. All of these fuckers are rich enough. If you’re in the business of making laws and regulations that affect industries, how about you don’t get to buy stock in any of the industries your decisions may actually affect.

They can buy those savings bonds or whatever those useless-seeming things grandparents give graduating grandkids are. I don’t care if they can’t get as rich as they want—if you want that public service job so bad, well, this should just be one of the tradeoffs. If you want to buy stocks more, then get a job where your decisions aren’t potentially altering the fate of the companies you buy stock in.

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As we’ve seen now more than ever, the stock market is really just a big game for rich people, anyway. I don’t see why we should let players in who can change the rules of the whole game.

This is hardly a new opinion, but with this recent reveal, it can’t hurt to be brought up again.

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