Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez set her sights on the way people are elected to congress and dismantled the entire system – especially the way campaign financing works.
The Democrat congresswoman spoke to government officials about the seemingly symbiotic relationship between campaign financers, lobbying and the lack of limits and controls impressed upon elected members when it comes to drawing up legislation.
Ocasio-Cortez begins with a hypothetical situation:
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.
“Let’s play a lightning round game,” she began.
I’m gonna be the bad guy, which I’m sure half the room would agree with anyway, and I want to get away with a 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.
Addressing government officials in this hypothetical situation, she added that they are her “co-conspirators” and will “help me legally get away with all of this.”
1. If someone wants to run a campaign entirely funded by corporate political action committees, can they?
She addresses the room: “Is there anything legally that prevents me from doing that?”
Karen Hobert Flynn: "No."
This means [they] can be funded by corporate PACs from the fossil fuel industry, health care industry, big pharma.
2. If someone has “skeletons in their closet” they need to cover up so that they can get elected, can they?
“So, green light for hush money,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause
It’s totally legal right now for me to pay people off, and that is considered speech. That money is considered speec
3. Ok, so if someone is elected on this basis– they can draft, lobby and shape the laws that govern the USA. Are there any limits to their drafting power to reflect special interest funds to finance the election in the first place?
Cortez asks for clarification:
So I can be totally funded by oil and gas, I can be totally funded by big pharma, come in, write big pharma laws and there’s on limits to that whatsoever?
No, there are no limits.
4. Next up: This elected official now wants to get rich with as little work as possible – is there anything preventing them from holding stocks in an oil company and then writing laws to deregulate the industry and, cause the stock value to increase and collect money?
Rudy Mehrbani, Spitzer Fellow and Senior Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice:
You can do that. Yes
5. Ok so this is a hypothetical case – but does it apply to any current public servants in America right now?
The 29-year-congresswoman goes on to call the system “fundamentally broken.”
We have these influences existing in this body, which means that these influences are here in this committee shaping the questions that are being asked of you all right now.
She goes on to point out that whilst congress has some limits – the president has little to none.
…The executive branch… the President of the United States – would you say that Congress has the same sort of standard of accountability?
Senior Advisor Walter Shaub, Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington responded:
In terms of laws that apply to the president, yeah, there’s almost no laws at all that apply to the president.
And then she makes a final, ironclad point:
So I’m being held, and every person in this body, is being held to a higher ethical standard than the President of the United States?
And 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, I would assume?