After Leading Efforts to Ban Congressional Stock Trading, Ocasio-Cortez Admits to Financial Violations
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who has in the past led efforts from members of both parties to ban stock trading by members of Congress, admitted through a spokesperson that she has not complied with financial disclosure rules for sitting members of Congress.
Under the 2012 STOCK Act, which greatly increased scrutiny on stock market transactions by members of Congress, congress members are required to publicly disclose their transactions.
Ocasio-Cortez, who was due to disclose her own stock transactions on Aug. 13, has failed to do so, a spokesperson for the congresswoman said.
In a statement to the Washington Examiner, Lauren Hitt, Ocasio-Cortez’s communications director, said that Ocasio-Cortez is in no rush to comply with the STOCK Act rules, which grant members of Congress a 30-day grace period before fines begin to accumulate.
“The committee provides a 30-day grace period before fines are levied. The congresswoman plans to file before the period expires,” Hitt said.
The fine for failure to disclose within a month of the due date is minuscule—only $200.
However, it flies in the face of past comments by the New York Democrat, who has said that leaving the public in the dark about the financial transactions of members of Congress reduces trust in the democratic system.
Ocasio-Cortez is among the 10 members of Congress, including Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich), who have yet to file their disclosures.
This is not the first time that Ocasio-Cortez has failed to comply with STOCK Act rules in a timely manner. In September 2021, the congresswoman exploited the 30-day grace period to its limit, submitting her disclosure on day 30 to narrowly avoid the fine.
Over the course of the 116th and 117th Congresses, bipartisan calls for stricter laws on congressional stock trading have burgeoned, and in the past Ocasio-Cortez has joined these calls.
In a March 20, 2020, tweet, Ocasio-Cortez opined: “Members of Congress should not be allowed to own individual stock. We are here to serve the public, not to profiteer. It’s shocking that it’s even been allowed up to this point.”
More recently, Ocasio-Cortez joined other members of Congress at an April press conference calling for a congressional stock trading ban.
“We are … tackling a crisis of faith in our institutions in the United States, and that exploitation of that crisis of faith is a direct threat to our democracy,” Ocasio-Cortez said at the time. “It is our responsibility to ensure that we eliminate, again, that perception of impropriety because it is these perceptions that can be exploited to undermine our most sacred institutions.”
Critics have opined that Ocasio-Cortez’s tardiness in submitting the returns may be tied to her appearance at the Met Gala in Sept. 2021, during which she wore a dress featuring the phrase “Eat the Rich.”
Directly following the event, the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), a conservative watchdog group, filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics.
In the complaint, the NLPC alleged that Ocasio-Cortez had taken illegal gifts—including the dress itself, limo rides, and hairstylist expenses—as part of attending the event.
Under the guidelines of the STOCK Act, members of Congress are required to report all gifts they receive, legal or not.
Because her deadline to submit was Aug. 13, Ocasio-Cortez has until around Sept. 12 to file the disclosure and avoid a fine. However, the public as yet remains in the dark as to Ocasio-Cortez’s 2021 financial activities.
Ocasio-Cortez’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.