SALT LAKE CITY — Political corruption isn’t only easy for the president and Congress, it’s legal. That’s the message New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is sharing this week in a now-viral video sweeping across social media.
What happened: In a House committee hearing held by the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 6, Ocasio-Cortez played a “lightning round” game with witnesses to highlight how legal it is to be “a pretty bad guy” in political office, according to Vox.
- “I’m going to be the bad guy,” Ocasio-Cortez said, setting up a hypothetical situation, “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. I have enlisted all of you as my co-conspirators, so you’re going to help me legally get away with all of this.”
Ocasio-Cortez asked the committee a series of hypothetical questions, such as:
- Could you run a campaign entirely on political action campaign funds?
- Could you use that money to make hush payments to get elected?
- Could you write laws that might benefit groups you’re taking special interest money from, and could you hold stocks in companies the legislation you write might benefit?
According to Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, and Rudy Mehrbani from the Brennan Center for Justice, — who both appear in the video — it would be legal for a candidate to do all of those things and it’s possible that current public servants are doing them right now.
What about the president? Walter Shaub, senior adviser for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, confirmed that “there’s almost no laws at all that apply to the president” when it comes to congressional oversight.
"It's already super legal, as we've seen, for me to be a pretty bad guy, so it's even easier for the president of the United States to be one," Ocasio-Cortez said, as reported by Business Insider.
Since being published Thursday, the NowThis video showing Ocasio-Cortez’s questions has been viewed over 13 million times, according to Vox.19 comments on this story
The hearing at which she delivered the video was for HR 1, the For the People Act of 2019, "which includes anti-corruption reforms and measures that would make it easier to vote," according to Business Insider. "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."
- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the act a "power grab" by Democrats.
Ocasio-Cortez currently serves on the Oversight Committee and campaigned heavily for reforming campaign finance laws, according to Business Insider.