Pelosi Attacks Facebook As ‘Willing Enabler’ of Russia, Still Owns Up to $1 Million In Company Stock

Pelosi family has owned Facebook stock since 2012, increased investment in 2018

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi / Getty Images

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) has up to $1 million in Facebook, a company she said on Wednesday was a "willing enabler of Russian interference" in the 2016 election.

Pelosi's sharp criticism of the social media giant was a direct response to its decision to flag an altered video of her as false rather than remove it altogether. She told a local California radio station the decision calls into question whether they "wittingly" conspired with Russians to interfere in the 2016 election.

"We have said all along, poor Facebook, they were unwittingly exploited by the Russians," Pelosi said. "I think wittingly, because right now they are putting up something that they know is false."

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"I think they have proven—by not taking down something they know is false—that they were willing enablers of the Russian interference in our election," Pelosi said.

Pelosi has been an investor in Facebook since shortly after its initial public offering on May 23, 2012, when her husband purchased between $100,001 and $250,000 worth of stock, according to financial disclosures.

It has been a good investment for Pelosi. The closing share price of Facebook stock on the date of the initial purchase was $32, a fraction of the $183.50 opening share price Wednesday when Pelosi attacked it as a "willing enabler" of Russia.

In her most recent annual disclosure, covering 2017, the investment in Facebook was valued between $500,001 and $1,000,000.

Though Pelosi is yet to file her disclosure for 2018, required periodic transaction reports show her husband significantly increased his Facebook investment last year.

Reports show two purchases of long-term call options on Facebook stock—the first one valued between $50,001 and $100,000 on July 27, 2018, and then a larger $100,001 to $250,000 purchase on October 9, 2018. Both options expire on January 17, 2020, according to the disclosures.

Advertising information now available on Facebook shows that Pelosi has also been an active user of the social media platform, spending nearly $100,000 to run Facebook ads through her campaign and official office.

Pelosi's office did not respond to an inquiry into whether her husband plans to divest from Facebook.

NetChoice, an association of internet companies including Facebook, objected to Pelosi's "false and over-the-top" accusation.

"Speaker Pelosi's accusation that Facebook is a ‘willing enabler' of Russian interference in our elections is completely false and appears to be an attempt to use an important national discussion for her own political gamesmanship," said Carl Szabo, the group's vice president.

Szabo also said Pelosi's true aim appeared to be "to frighten platforms into removing any content she feels is unflattering."

Facebook has thus far stood firm on its decision not to remove the video of Pelosi, despite objections from both the Democratic leader and two-time failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.