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Pelosi’s husband invested in Tesla, but not as viral post claims

February 1, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: On Jan. 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi purchased $1.25 million in stock from the electric vehicle company Tesla. A day later, on Jan. 25, President Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring all federal vehicles to be electric.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: Partly false. It’s true that Pelosi’s husband invested up to $1 million in call options for Tesla stock in December, according to financial disclosure documents. Claims that the representative bought $1.25 million in shares one day before Biden’s executive order are inaccurate.

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THE FACTS: A viral meme wrongly accusing Pelosi of investing millions in Tesla the day before Biden signed an executive order on electric vehicles circulated widely on Facebook on Monday with millions of views and more than 275,000 shares.

The posts paired a picture of Pelosi next to a picture of Biden signing the order.

“1/24/21 Nancy buys $1.25 million in Tesla Stock…” the posts read. “1/25/21 Joe signs EO for all Fed Vehicles to be EV!”

In some versions of the post, a banner over the top of the images used sarcasm to obliquely suggest Pelosi engaged in insider trading, reading, “Wow!! What are the odds of that? Talk about luck !! What are the odds?”

Some individuals sharing the post made more overt accusations. “IMAGINE THAT! ISN’T THIS CALLED INSIDER TRADING???” one Facebook user wrote.

It’s true that Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, made a Tesla investment recently, according to the House Speaker’s financial disclosure documents published Jan. 21. However, the date and amount of the investment don’t match the claim that’s circulating widely online.

According to Pelosi’s latest Periodic Transaction Report filed with Congress, her husband on Dec. 22 invested between $500,000 and $1 million in 25 call options for Tesla stock at a strike price of $500 until March 2022.

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Call options are financial contracts that give the buyer the right to buy shares of a stock for a certain amount — the strike price — until a set expiration date.

Biden signed his executive order directing federal officials to transition federal, state, local and tribal government fleets to “clean and zero-emission vehicles” on Jan. 27, more than a month after Pelosi’s husband made the investment.

Members of the House are allowed to buy and sell stocks but prohibited from using private information from their jobs to inform their investments, according to the STOCK Act of 2012.

Though Pelosi’s husband’s investment was legal, it has drawn scrutiny from critics who argue that members of Congress should not be allowed to trade individual stocks at all. The House Speaker is likely to play a key role in shaping U.S. clean energy policy, and the investment means Pelosi could stand to financially benefit from the success of one electric vehicle company, Tesla.

A spokesperson for Pelosi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536