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Tipsheet

Why AOC and Matt Gaetz Are Now Working Together

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool

Americans' trust in our institutions has been waning for years, for good reason, but a new piece of legislation being put forward by the U.S. House of Representatives seeks to give Americans some modicum of reassurance that their federal elected officials can't as easily use the trust placed in them by voters to enrich their own lives. And it comes, rather surprisingly, from a bipartisan group of lawmakers that includes Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).

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Those two divergent voices are joined by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) in introducing the "Bipartisan Restoring Faith in Government Act," a bill that would prohibit financial investments — such as individual stock trades — by members of Congress, their spouses, and their dependents (hereby referred to as the "Hunter clause").

The group introducing the bill on Tuesday constitute prominent members of the House's Progressive Caucus, Freedom Caucus, and Problem Solvers Caucus — a rare coalition amid the ongoing debt ceiling fight or at any point in a Congress in recent memory. 

Rep. Fitzpatrick says the agreement on this topic "should send a powerful message to America" that "we must move forward on issues that unite us, including our firm belief that trust in government must be restored, and that Members of Congress, including their dependents, bust be prohibited from trading in stocks while they are serving in Congress and have access to sensitive, inside information."

While still mired in a House ethics investigation over her alleged improper acceptance of gifts and services related to her 2021 attendance at the Met Gala, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said in a release on Tuesday that the "ability to individually trade stock erodes the public's trust in government" because when "Members have access to classified information, we should not be trading in the stock market on it. It's really that simple," the Squad member added. 

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Rep. Gaetz noted that Members of Congress, as things stand now, "are spending their time trading futures instead of securing the future of our fellow Americans. We cannot allow the Swamp to prioritize investing in stocks over investing in our country," he added. "As long as concerns about insider trading hang over the legislative process, Congress will never regain the trust of the American people."

"Members of Congress must be focused on their constituents, not their stock portfolios," reiterated Rep. Krishnamoorthi. "I am proud to support this important legislation and to help continue to expand the bipartisan coalition in Congress to ban stock ownership and trading by Members of Congress."

Insider trading by Americans' elected representatives, based on information they have only due to their constituents' trust, is a practice that ought to have been ended long ago. But, with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's tenure, it was unlikely she'd ever put forward a change to the system that allowed her and other lawmakers to profit off their "public service." 

As the Bipartisan Restoring Faith in Government Act moves through the House, it will be interesting to see who might come out against the legislation as they'll likely have some explaining to do regarding why they think members of Congress should be able to make a profit off of information that the Americans who elected them don't have.

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