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Why AOC and Rep. Matt Gaetz co-sponsored a bill together

The pair were two of the sponsors on a new bipartisan bill to ban members of Congress or their families from buying or selling stock

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Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Monday, April 17, 2023.

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Monday, April 17, 2023.

Seth Wenig, Associated Press

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., are teaming up for what many Americans would say is a good cause: banning members of Congress from trading stocks.

Ocasio-Cortez and Gaetz co-sponsored the Bipartisan Restoring Faith in Government Act, which would ban financial investments by members of Congress and their spouses and dependents, along with Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.

“The ability to individually trade stock erodes the public’s trust in government,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement. “When members have access to classified information, we should not be trading in the stock market on it. It’s really that simple.”

In an interview with Fox News, Gaetz said, “AOC is wrong a lot, she’d probably say the same thing about me, but she’s not corrupt and I will work with anyone and everyone to ensure that Congress is not so compromised.”

A 63% majority of registered voters said they support a ban on stock trading for members of Congress, according to 2022 Morning Consult poll. That includes 69% of Democrats, 64% of independents and 58% of Republicans.

At least 113 members of Congress or members of their families disclosed stock transactions in 2021 totaling $355 million, according to a report from Capitol Trades, which tracks trading on Capitol Hill, and some but not all could be potential conflicts of interest based on lawmakers’ committee assignments. The New York Times found 18% of Congress sat on committees that “potentially gave them insight into the companies whose shares they reported buying or selling.”

Lawmakers and their families have faced criticism over stock trades, including in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic when members of Congress were being briefed on the situation as it was first unfolding. Some bought stocks in companies that made products like remote-work technology or vaccines, according to an analysis from the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog nonprofit.

Past efforts to ban members of Congress from selling stock have stalled. When asked in 2021 whether members and their spouses should be banned from trading individuals stocks, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said no.

“We’re a free market economy, they should be able to participate in that,” Pelosi said. She’s since reversed her position. Last year, her husband Paul Pelosi sold Google shares prior to the Justice Department suing the company. The former speaker has denied being involved in her husband’s transactions.

The bill Ocasio-Cortez and Gaetz have signed onto has earned the backing of the government ethics group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and P Street, a progressive government affairs organization. Fitzpatrick, the Pennsylvania Republican who co-sponsored the bill, said in a statement the broad support for the measure is proof it’s a unifying issue.

“The fact that Members of the Progressive Caucus, the Freedom Caucus, and the Bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, reflecting the entirety of the political spectrum, can find common ground on key issues like this should send a powerful message to America,” Fitzpatrick said.