Tommy Tuberville’s well-timed stock trades raise questions, face legislative threat

By Howard Koplowitz

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 21: Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) rides in a Senate elevator near the Senate Chambers in the U.S. Capitol on July 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. The Senate wrapped up their votes for the week and is expected to consider legislation for legalizing marijuana and the House-approved bill protecting same-sex marriage. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)Getty Images

On July 14, Sen. Tommy Tuberville attacked President Joe Biden over the price of cookies.

The president’s “reckless economic policies are wreaking havoc on our economy,” Alabama’s junior senator tweeted.

Tuberville also shared a link to a Wall Street Journal story on how the price of groceries — including hot dogs and cookies — were rising at the fastest rate since 1979.

The same day of his tweet, Tuberville and his wife bought between $100,001 and $250,000 worth of ChannelAdvisor Corp. Stock, according to a financial disclosure statement the senator filed with the Senate Ethics Committee.

The exact amount of the stock buy is unknown because reporting requirements only call for a dollar range.

That purchase, about the equivalent of 28,571 to 71,248 boxes of family size Chips Ahoy cookies, would end up being worth between $150,861 and $377,150 as of the end of trading on Thursday, for nearly a 55 percent gain.

Nearly all that profit was made on Sept. 6, when ChannelAdvisor Corp. announced it was being acquired for $23.01 a share.

When the Tubervilles purchased the stock in mid-July, it was worth about $14 a share.

At a minimum, Tuberville and his wife earned about the same as Alabama’s median income of $52,000 in less than two months of owning ChannelAdvisor Corp. Stock.

There is no evidence suggesting Tuberville had any inside information gleaned from his work in the Senate that spurred the stock purchase, and the senator has long said his financial advisors manage his day-to-day portfolio.

Trading on inside information is illegal, although legislators are allowed to trade stocks, even if policies they make through various committees they sit on or information they learn by sitting on those committees could affect their financial portfolios and entire industries.

Aaron Scherb, senior director of legislative affairs for the good government group Common Cause, said stock trading among members of Congress and their spouses raises the appearance of conflicts of interest.

“Certainly, the appearance of a conflict of interest can be just as damaging as a conflict of interest,” Scherb said.

Eyebrow-raising stock purchases are hardly limited to just Tuberville.

On the other side of the aisle, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s venture capitalist husband, Paul Pelosi, made multi-million-dollar stock trades involving Big Tech companies targeted with a congressional antitrust bill.

Investments made by the Pelosis, who are multi-millionaires, attracted attention in investing circles online, and spurred calls to rein in trading among members of Congress and their spouses.

Pelosi initially rebuffed those calls, saying members “should be able to participate in” the “free market economy, but later softened her stance.

“Across the entire federal government, there have been significant stories regarding financial conflicts of interest in relation to stock trading and ownership,” wrote Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., in a letter to colleagues while introducing a framework to tackle congressional stock trading, according to Insider.

“Collectively, these stories undermine the American people’s faith and trust in the integrity of public officials and our federal government.”

It remains unclear whether Tuberville supports those efforts.

A spokeswoman for the senator’s office declined to give his position and would not say whether he was concerned about an appearance of conflicts of interest.

Several competing bills – including some that have not yet been introduced – would require members of Congress, their spouses and dependents to either divest their financial holdings or set up a blind trust for their investments.

One of those bills may be voted on as early as next week in the House, according to Scherb.