"Assume that I am a really bad guy, how much damage could I possibly cause as a lawmaker?"
That was the question US Congresswoman and Democratic freshman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posed at a session of the US Congress. Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, spoke at length, asking pointed questions on the loopholes in legislation on conflict of interest for Congressmen and the lack of accountability when it comes to campaign funding.
The video, in which she sought to point out deficiencies in campaign finance, took Twitter by storm. One version of the video has more than 5.2 million views and 9,200 shares.
Oh my god. This is just sensational. Please watch and retweet. pic.twitter.com/ackPHwAUce
— James Corden (@JKCorden) February 7, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez queried Karen Hobert Flynn, the president of Common Cause, a progressive watchdog group, on if a person with dubious intentions wanted to run for Congress if there was anything stopping them from funding their campaign entirely through big multinationals and corporates lobbying for their own interests. She further asked Congress to assume if she — being such an individual — had some 'skeletons in her closet' she needed covered.
Ocasio-Cortez referred to Congressman Bradley A Smith's op-ed in The Washington Post on President Donald Trump allegedly making hush money payments to women — which argued that though the payments were "unseemly, that doesn't mean they were illegal" — to bolster her argument that US laws were entirely silent on hush money and payments made to keep certain facts about a candidate's personal or public life from coming to light ahead of the elections.
"So I use my special interest, dark-money funded campaign to pay off folks that I need to pay off," Ocasio-Cortez said, pointing out loopholes in the laws. She further asked lawmakers if there were any laws that prevented lawmakers whose campaigns were funded by a specific interest group, from amending or writing laws related to that sector. Flynn responded that there were no such limits.
"So there is no limit? I can be totally funded by big pharma, come in, and write big pharma laws, and there's no limit to that whatsoever?"Ocasio-Cortez asked, driving home her point. Ocasio-Cortez further enquired if a lawmaker is in office, funded by corporates with vested interests and with the power to influence those very corporate sectors, if they could use this power to serve their own financial interests.
Posing a hypothetical, Ocasio-Cortez asked that if she wanted to grow rich by investing in stocks of a company of a particular sector if she could amend laws of that very sector in a way that to boost share prices. This time the answer came from Rudy Mehrbani, Spitzer Fellow and senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice: "Yes, you could do that!"
Ocasio-Cortez then claimed America has a system that is "fundamentally broken" and that the President of the United States, who enjoys far more powers, is even less accountable than Congress. She ended by saying that assuming a person wishing to enrich himself, putting his or her interests ahead of the American people, there were no laws that stop them from doing so.
The lawmaker, who claims on her website that her campaign was 100 percent publicly funded, is often attacked for living off taxpayers' money. However, her supporters brush off such claims, arguing that America finally has a working class leader and her rise shows "anything is possible if you have talent and work hard".
I know you think this will embarrass her or change how I feel about her but it only makes me like her more. It shows anything is possible if you have talent and work hard, even if you struggle. How much do you owe in student loans, John? https://t.co/SawHD9XCej — Amee Vanderpool (@girlsreallyrule) February 8, 2019
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