Ocasio-Cortez says Cohen guilty plea shows need for tighter political spending rules

11/29/18

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that she’s looking at seats on several different committees next year, partly with the hope of implementing tighter regulations on political spending.

The incoming freshman told Hill.TV that the recent guilty plea from President Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen is just the latest example of the need for stricter rules, at all levels of government.

“It goes so much beyond the scope of just the president,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This really speaks to the corrupting force of money in politics in general. And this problem is not going to go away until we tighten the reins on the role of money in politics.”

Cohen pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress about his work with Russians on behalf of then-candidate Trump to build a Trump Tower complex in Moscow. The construction plans never came to fruition, but Cohen continued to work on the project well into Trump’s 2016 presidential run, according to a court document released by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Ocasio-Cortez said that for the 116th Congress she’s aiming high and expressing interest in committees like Financial Services, among others.

“I think with our district, we can be ambitious, so we’re kind of swinging for the fences on committees,” she said. “We might as well ask for something big.”

She said she was still interested in serving on the Energy and Commerce Committee but wanted to cast a wide net.

Committee assignments for Democrats are controlled by the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which is headed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the party’s nominee to become the next Speaker.

On Nov. 13, Ocasio-Cortez participated in a “Green New Deal” protest outside Pelosi’s office. Serving on the Energy and Commerce Committee would give Ocasio-Cortez a bigger role in shaping environmental legislation.

She also weighed in on the recent developments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, telling Hill.TV that she plans plans to follow the lead of more senior Democrats like Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who’s expected to helm the House Intelligence Committee starting in January, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the likely incoming chairman of House Judiciary Committee.

“Right now, I think it’s really important to follow Congressman Schiff’s lead and some of the lead of Congressman Nadler and others on the Judiciary Committee and really see how we can move forward in a way that really brings justice to the American people and protects our democracy,” she said.

— Matthew Sheffield and Molly K. Hooper

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