The New York Democrat’s comments come after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a practicing ophthalmologist, revealed on Wednesday evening, in a late filing, that his wife Kelley Paul purchased up to $15,000 in shares of remdesivir maker Gilead Sciences Inc. in February 2020. Trades are required to be disclosed within 45 days of the transaction.
"It is absolutely wild that members of Congress are still allowed to buy and sell individual stock," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Thursday. "It shouldn’t be legal. We’ve introduced legislation to end the practice, but as one can imagine it’s a very uphill battle to pass."
Cortez and fellow House Democrats Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado and Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, in March 2020 introduced the Ban Conflicted Trading Act, which would bar members of Congress from trading stocks. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.
It’s unclear if Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet was directed at Sen. Paul. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have recently been late in reporting their financial transactions.
Members of Congress are permitted to purchase shares in individual companies so long as the transactions are not made with the knowledge of non-public information, according to the Stock Act. Members of Congress and their families are required to disclose any assets purchased or sold, the dates of such transactions and the dollar amount.
Ocasio-Cortez, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterms and has never purchased shares of an individual company while in office, according to financial filings, has previously spoken out against members of Congress being allowed to buy shares of individual companies.
In March 2020, Ocasio-Cortez called on Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., to resign after it was found that he and three other senators sold stock before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the market to crash. Burr was head of the Senate Intelligence Committee and received daily coronavirus briefings.
The Department of Justice dropped an investigation into the transactions made by Burr, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., or their significant others.
Back then, Ocasio-Cortez called on members of Congress to be banned from trading stock.
However, there was no mention of such a ban being needed after financial filings released ahead of the Independence Day weekend showed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, earlier this year earned more than $5 million trading options on Google-parent Alphabet Inc., as reported by FOX Business.
Paul Pelosi locked in the gains a week before the House Judiciary Committee advanced six bipartisan antitrust bills. He also bought call options in other tech giants, including Apple Inc. and Amazon Inc.
Paul Pelosi, who runs a real estate and venture capital investment and consulting firm based in San Francisco, in December 2020 bought options in electric-vehicle maker Tesla Inc. Pelosi, as House speaker, likely had insights into Biden’s plans for the industry that encouraged a shift away from traditional automobiles.
Inquiries made by FOX Business to the offices of Ocasio-Cortez, Pelosi and Paul were not returned.