Virginia Democratic congresswoman Elaine Luria is defending her multimillion-dollar stake in a company that even prolific stock trader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) thinks is too controversial.
Luria holds up to $25 million in computer chip designer Nvidia, the same company Pelosi's husband invested up to $5 million in June as Congress moved forward on legislation that would provide billions of dollars in subsidies to the chip industry. On Tuesday—the day before the Senate passed that legislation—the Pelosis quietly sold their $5 million stake amid conflict of interest concerns. Luria, however, is not following suit. In a Friday interview with Norfolk's NBC affiliate, the Democrat defended her stake in Nvidia just one day after she voted for the chip subsidy bill, even though the company's stock shot up more than 10 points after Congress approved the legislation.
Luria joined Congress in 2019 and is a top Republican target in November, when she will face state legislator and fellow Navy veteran Jen Kiggans. Kiggans called on Luria to sell her Nvidia holding in a Thursday press release, which accused the Democrat of putting "her bottom line ahead of her constituents' well-being."
"Elaine Luria has used her power to enrich herself by tens of millions of dollars since taking office," Kiggans said. "If Elaine is serious about reforming Washington, she should lead by example and immediately sell her stocks in the Nvidia Corporation after her vote."
Luria's defense of her stock portfolio comes just months after she called a bipartisan push to ban lawmakers from trading stocks "bullshit" and dismissed the notion that members of Congress are "inherently bad or corrupt."
"I think this whole concept is bullshit, because I think that, why would you assume that members of Congress are going to be inherently bad or corrupt?" Luria told Punchbowl News. "I mean, the people that you're electing to represent you, it makes no sense that you're going to automatically assume that they're going to use their position for some nefarious means or to benefit themselves. So I'm very strongly opposed to any legislation like that."
Three in four voters support banning lawmakers from trading stocks while in office, according to a December Trafalgar Group poll.
During her Friday interview, Luria called criticism of her Nvidia holding a "hollow political attack." She claimed the company does not benefit from the chip legislation as it is not directly eligible for the subsidies offered through the bill—those subsidies are for chip manufacturers, not chip designers. But Nvidia's increase in value after Congress passed the Luria-backed chip bill is a reflection of the fact that the company will indeed benefit from the legislation, a Republican congressional aide with knowledge of the bill told the Washington Free Beacon.
"If there's a higher demand for chips there will obviously be a higher demand for chip designers," the aide said. "Luria's excuse is like saying if the government gave a lot of money to shoe manufacturers, shoe designers wouldn't also benefit. That's pretty dumb."
Still, Luria spokesman Jayce Genco told the Free Beacon Luria's vote in favor of the chip bill had nothing to do with her portfolio.
"To suggest that her vote on the anti-China bill is anything but for strengthening our national security is absurd," Genco said. "Our national defense remains one of Rep. Luria's top priorities as a member of Congress."