Ethics: As Democrats demonize Wall Street CEOs as the “greedy” fiends of the financial crisis, they’ve lined their own pockets — both before and after the crisis. Nancy Pelosi’s just the latest example.
The former House speaker allegedly gamed financial reforms to boost her personal stock portfolio. The brewing scandal is complicated, but here’s the Reader’s Digest version:
After a Pelosi staffer left to lobby on behalf of credit-card giant Visa, Pelosi delayed bringing to the House floor a bill to end lucrative “swipe fees” for Visa and other credit providers.
The bill couldn’t have come at a worse time for Visa. It planned to launch an $18 billion public stock offering, so stalling Hill action became a priority. The San Francisco-based company curried favor with Pelosi by pumping cash into her re-election efforts, earning its CEO a rare one-on-one meeting with the speaker.
At the same time, Visa offered her husband a VIP cut of the IPO. Paul Pelosi jumped at the offer, buying 5,000 shares at the $44 initial price. In a couple of days, the shares soared to $64. Pelosi later bought 15,000 more, raising the total value of his investment to about $5 million. In the end, the legislation Visa fought starting in 2007 was forestalled two full years.
Publicly, Nancy Pelosi has been a frequent critic of the financial industry. The commission she impaneled in 2009 to investigate the root causes of the crisis summarily indicted Wall Street honchos, while exonerating guilty Democrats, including several who had their hands in the subprime pot. Among them: