- Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz said on Tuesday that he thinks AOC is often wrong, but is “not corrupt.”
- Both congressional lawmakers formed an unlikely team-up on Tuesday to introduce a new bill.
- The bill aims to prohibit members of Congress and their spouses from trading in the stock market.
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz defended Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday, telling Fox News that she is “not corrupt” as the pair joins forces to push a new bipartisan bill.
“AOC is wrong a lot, she’d probably say the same thing about me, but she’s not corrupt,” Gaetz told Fox News host Jesse Watters on Tuesday. “And I will work with anyone and everyone to ensure that Congress is not so compromised.”
The Florida lawmaker and Ocasio-Cortez, who have historically clashed and been on opposing ends of political ideologies, introduced a bill together on Tuesday aimed at barring members of Congress and their spouses from investing in the stock market.
They and several other congressional leaders warned that congressional trading erodes trust in the government and presents conflicts of interest.
Gaetz told Watters on Tuesday that Congress should “disallow congressional stock trading for the same reason we don’t allow the referee to bet on the game.”
Members of Congress traded $788 million worth of securities in the last year alone, the Florida lawmaker said.
‘One in every four members of Congress is doing this, and it’s not exactly like I’m elected with a bunch of Gordon Gekkos and Bobby Axelrods,” Gaetz said, referencing two film and TV characters, played by Michael Douglas and Damian Lewis, who made vast fortunes in the stock market.
—Jesse Watters (@JesseBWatters) May 3, 2023
He mentioned Florida Democrat Lois Frankel, who he said has “been a lawmaker since I was five.”
“And I’m supposed to believe that all of a sudden she’s making moves like she’s Warren Buffet?” Gaetz told Watters.
Frankel was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in November 1986 and now represents the state’s 22nd district.
The congresswoman was revealed in an April 28 financial disclosure report to have sold her shares in First Republic Bank just before it collapsed and bought JPMorgan shares just before it bought First Republic.
Frankel told CNN on Tuesday that her account is run by an independent money manager.
Congressional lawmakers are allowed to trade stocks, but are required to disclose their transactions under the STOCK Act, which aims to prevent insider trading. However, at least 78 members of Congress have failed to properly report their trades, Insider reported in 2021.
Insider’s Conflicted Congress project, which investigates the depths of conflict of interest and self-dealing in Capitol Hill, also found that 182 top congressional staffers violated the STOCK Act.
Gaetz and Ocasio-Cortez have a tenuous relationship, have but worked together before
Ocasio-Cortez, who calls herself a democratic socialist, and Gaetz, a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, might not be the first lawmakers to come to mind when one thinks of common ground on Capitol Hill.
The New York Rep. has criticized Gaetz multiple times, slamming a climate proposal he made in 2019, making comments about a sex-trafficking investigation against him, and describing him as a “bad haircut in a cheap suit.”
And the two have teamed up before. Both lawmakers signed a letter in February calling for President Joe Biden to get approval from Congress before deploying American troops to the war in Ukraine.
They also co-sponsored a bill with 62 other congressional leaders in 2021 that sought to ban members of congress and certain congressional employees from trading securities. Records show the bill did not go to a vote on the House floor.
On Tuesday, Gaetz told Fox News that he, Ocasio-Cortez, and other lawmakers negotiated “heavily” on their latest bill.
“We wanted to make sure that members of Congress couldn’t just have a veneer to have a family member trading the stock for them,” Gaetz told Watters.
Rep. Bryan Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, who also sponsored their bill, said that lawmakers like Ocasio-Cortez and Gaetz finding common ground on issues like stock trading was a “powerful message to America.”
“This is basic common sense and basic Integrity 101,” he said in a statement.
Representatives for Gaetz, Ocasio-Cortez, and Frankel did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment sent outside regular business hours.