Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) decided to play a “game” during a congressional hearing earlier this week to illustrate ethical problems in politics.
Ocasio-Cortez made the remarks during a House Oversight and Government Reform committee. She started by asking the panel testifying to play a “lightning round game” where she would act as a “bad guy” who wants to enrich themselves and run for political office.
The newly-sworn in congresswoman peppered a panel of experts with questions about a “bad guy” running for office whose campaign was funded by “100 percent lobbyist PAC” money. The persona also wanted to use campaign funds to cover up “some skeletons in my closet.” After every question, the panel would agree that her hypothetical situations were legal.
After that, Ocasio-Cortez hit home with the substance of her questions:
“So I use my special interest dark money funded campaign to pay off folks that I need to pay off and get elected. So now I’m elected, now I’m in. I’ve got the power to draft, lobby, and shape the laws that govern the United States of America. Fabulous… Is there any hard limit that I have, in terms of what legislation I’m allowed to touch? Are there any limits on the laws I can write, or influence… based on the special interest funds that I accepted to finance my campaign and get me elected in the first place?”
“There is no limit,” one panelist answered.
Ocasio-Cortez later pivoted, asking if there was anything preventing the “bad guy” persona from having stocks in the industries that donated to the hypothetical campaign and writing laws that would benefit them financially. The answer was no.
— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) February 8, 2019
Finally, the New York lawmaker asked the entire panel if “any elements” she mentioned in her hypothetical situation applied to the U.S. government. Several panelists said they did.
“So we have a system that is fundamentally broken,” she said. “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 ended by comparing the ethics rules and accountability in Congress and for the president—to which one panelist answered: “There’s almost no laws at all that apply to the president.”
“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’d assume?” she said as her time expired.
You can watch all of the exchange on C-SPAN here.