Freshman Democrat Congressman, Harley Rouda, had a quick lesson last month on how investigative reporting works in our nation’s capital. An exclusive Daily Beast Insiders Report did a deep dive on getting to the bottom of how many corporate boards of directors that Rep. Rouda sits on.

Rep. Harley Rouda, a recently-elected member of Congress from Orange County, co-sponsored House Resolution 1 (H.R. 1) during his first week in Congress. H.R. 1 has been touted by Democrats as an anti-corruption, ethics reform bill that promises to help reform campaign finance and corporate influence in democracy. One major tenet of the legislation that Rouda has championed prohibits members of Congress from serving on corporate boards while in office.

At Rouda’s February town hall in California’s 48th congressional district, Rep. Rouda talked highly of the new Democrat majority and their promises to clean up Washington, starting specifically with H.R. 1.

Lachlan Markay of Daily Beast sorted through Rep. Rouda’s House Personal Financial Disclosure Reports and found that despite the rhetoric, that Rouda retained many of his corporate board seats as of March 2019. When Markay gave these companies and the congressman’s office a call he got mixed messages about if Rep. Rouda had actually resigned from these board or if he still occupies them.

It remains to be seen whether Rep. Rouda really believed that he could formally throw his weight behind H.R. 1 while still maintaining his position with these companies, or if this was all just a case of a bumbling staff response on behalf of a freshmen representative that’s new to Washington.

But if Congressman Harley Rouda’s most recent Orange County meeting with constituents is anything to go by, there may still be something there.

At the RSVP only event, Rep. Rouda fielded questions from audience members, many of whom recorded his responses on their mobile phones.

When Rep. Rouda was asked about the impact that he believes recycling will have on fighting climate change he began to talk about “a company I’m involved in” that helps reduce single use plastic bottles.

While reducing plastic bottles is a laudable goal and plays well in Rouda’s coastal Orange County congressional district, the remaining business ties may prove problematic for Rouda in a changing Democratic Party being led further to the left by popular change agents like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Just this month, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or “AOC” as she is commonly referred to, shook up the congressional elections circuit, by listing two Orange County Congressional Democrats, Katie Porter and Mike Levin, as her preferred recipients of campaign donations. Porter and Levin are members of the Progressive Caucus in the House, more closely aligned with AOC and her socialist policies. Other democrats serving in Congress from Orange County swing districts were strangely absent from AOC’s fundraising push, including both Congressman Harley Rouda and Congressman Gil Cisneros.

A review of campaign finance disclosures shows over $600,000 in direct contributions to Rouda’s 2018 campaign from individuals working on Wall Street and in the real estate sectors. The large fundraising haul from investment and securities donors is seemingly at odds with AOC and the more progressive direction her supporters support.

In addition to Rouda’s recent media attention regarding his corporate ties, Congressman Cisneros was recently profiled in a Politico story about accepting corporate lobbyists donations after pledging not to accept money from corporate PACs.

 

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