- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used her new seat on the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday to deliver an impassioned argument for campaign finance reform and stronger government ethics laws.
- The New York Democrat posed a creative series of questions to ethics experts in an attempt to expose how a corrupt, self-interested lawmaker could avoid accountability in Congress.
- She called it the "Corruption Game."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used her new seat on the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday to deliver an impassioned argument for campaign finance reform and stronger government ethics laws.
The New York Democrat posed a creative series of questions to ethics experts in an attempt to expose how a corrupt, self-interested lawmaker could avoid accountability in Congress.
She called it the "Corruption Game."
"Let’s play a lightening round game, I’m gonna be the bad guy and I want to get away with as much bad things as possible, ideally to enrich myself and advance my interests, even if that means putting my interests ahead of the American people," Ocasio-Cortez began.
She then asked the panel of ethics experts whether she could use "special interest dark money" from corporate PACs to fund her theoretical campaign, dole out hush payments to keep adversaries quiet, write laws that benefit her donors, and then buy stocks in companies that would benefit from those laws.
They said she could do all of the above.
Ocasio-Cortez went on, "Is it possible that any elements of this story apply to our current government and our current public servants?" she asked.
When the experts responded in the affirmative, Ocasio-Cortez asked whether the ethics regulations pertaining to the president are stricter than those in Congress.
"There’s [sic] almost no laws at all that apply to the president," said Walter Shaub, the director of the Campaign Legal Center and former head of the US Office of Government Ethics.
"So it’s already super legal for me to be a pretty bad guy, but it’s even easier for the president of the United States to be one," she concluded.
The hearing revolved around sweeping legislation known as HR 1, the "For the People Act of 2019," introduced by House Democrats last month that includes anti-corruption reforms and measures that would make it easier to vote.
The bill also seeks to reduce the influence of big money in elections with a publicly-funded matching system for small-dollar donations to congressional campaigns.
Ocasio-Cortez campaigned heavily on her call to reform campaign finance laws and get big money out of politics. Like a growing number of Democrats, she banned corporate PAC money from he campaign. Around 62% of the $2 million Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign raised in the 2018 cycle came from donations of $200 or less, according to Open Secrets.
Ocasio-Cortez delivered her questioning after some Republicans on the committee, including the top GOP member Rep. Jim Jordan, criticized HR 1 as a "wish list for Democrats."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently called the bill a "power grab" and the "Democrat Politician Protection Act."
McConnell was widely mocked by critics.
Sen. Brian Schatz a Democrat from Hawaii tweeted, "Voting is a power grab. By citizens."
In what could be interpreted as a jab at President Donald Trump, the bill also includes a requirement for presidential and vice-presidential candidates to release their tax returns. Trump has broken years of precedent by refusing to release his tax returns.
Watch the full video here:
John Haltiwanger contributed to this report.
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Source: Business Insider