Editorial

By Her Own Standards, AOC Is A ‘Bad Guy’ For Taking Special-Interest Money From Big Tech, Labor

(Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)

David Benkof Contributor

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) doesn’t believe members of Congress should take money from groups affected by their votes on legislation. Unless, apparently, those groups have given money to her.

Soon after her election, in opposing the appointment of Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-WV) for ranking Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the firebrand democratic socialist told The New York Times on December 8 that she was concerned because, “I do not believe that we should be financed by the industries that we are supposed to be legislating and regulating and touching with our legislation.”

Then, on February 8, she spoke before the House Oversight Committee and complained that a “bad guy” politician could be “entirely funded by corporate PACs say from the fossil fuel industry, the health care industry, big pharma” and, once elected, “draft, lobby, and shape the laws that govern the United States of America.”

She continued, “I can be totally funded by oil and gas, can be totally funded by big pharma, come in, write big pharma laws, and there are no limits to that whatsoever.” (RELATED: Ocasio-Cortez On Illegal Immigrants: ‘I Don’t Care If You’re Documented Or You’re Undocumented’)

But regarding at least two major pieces of legislation, Ocasio-Cortez herself voted for laws that boost the agendas of big-money interests that financed her campaign.

On January 30, she voted for the Federal Civilian Workforce Pay Fairness Act, which increased the salaries and wages of all civilian federal employees by 2.6 percent for 2019.

Yet according to the website Open Secrets, in her 2018 campaign Ocasio-Cortez took more than $16,000 from public-sector union PACs, as well as thousands of dollars from the American Postal Workers Union and other unions whose members got a raise because of the law she voted for.

Another example is the “Save the Internet Act,” also known as the “net neutrality” bill, which Ocasio-Cortez voted for on April 10. Net neutrality was an important issue for tech companies, and the 29-year-old voted with the interests of Apple (which gave her campaign $6,861), Facebook ($5,024), Google ($3,776), and Microsoft ($1,968).

If Ocasio-Cortez believes members of Congress should not vote on legislation that impacts industries that finance them, it’s unclear why she did not recuse herself from any votes for that reason since her swearing-in January 3.

So far this term, there have been no major votes involving universities, but Ocasio-Cortez she’s taken more than $11,000 from Columbia University alone, plus thousands each from many others. Nor have there been any votes yet on films, though Disney gave her $5,139 and Antidote Films gave her $5,400, but she will clearly have many opportunities later this term to show whether she’s sincere about her theory of legislative integrity or whether she just practices politics as usual.

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