Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez insists she is a “proud” Democrat, but when it comes to actually backing up that claim and supporting her own party’s efforts to retain the House majority, she’s about $250,000 short.
On Friday, Ocasio-Cortez said that she is protesting paying $250,000 in “dues” to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) because policies that she believes “blacklists” vendors for working with challengers like her.
“I’m a Democrat, I’m proud to be on this team. I’m proud to be part of the Democratic majority,” Ocasio-Cortez told Fox News Friday, but she then joked about quitting the party and becoming an independent like Vermont senator and Democratic primary front-runner Bernie Sanders if she can’t be a “team player.”
Ocasio-Cortez says she has been catching heat for her decision, but the fee doesn’t make sense to her, or her campaign.
“I don’t see the sense in giving a quarter-million dollars to an organization that has clearly told people like me that we’re not welcome,” she said.
The progressive outlier also thinks the amount they are trying to get from her campaign is way too high, and the 30-year-old jokingly pointed to her $20,000 in student loan debt.
“It’s pretty nuts — $250,000 for a freshman member. Can you imagine being 30 years old and getting a bill for $250,000? I still have $20,000 in student loan debt,” she said.
The DCCC, in an effort to win elections and retain majorities, asks for “dues” on a sliding scale from all House Democrats. The scale goes from $1 million for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to $150,000 for newer members, and the system mirrors that of Republicans.
So what is Ocasio-Cortez doing instead? Starting her own progressive political action committee, of course, which she hopes will reduce the influence of big corporations and lobbyists while giving other candidates like her a shot at making it big in politics.
“This is a place that should be for everyone,” Ocasio-Cortez said Friday. “It should be for working people. It should be for everyday people who aren’t connected to big money.”
Ocasio-Cortez then went on to launch the PAC called “Courage to Change PAC” on Saturday, advertising the fundraising effort in a tweet.
The rumors are true. Today we’re announcing the Courage to Change PAC – and we need your help.
We are pushing the envelope in DC by rewarding those who reject lobbyist money, fight for working families,& welcome newcomers.
Change takes courage. Let’s go: https://t.co/F01JmYaR7w
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 11, 2020
So far, her new PAC’s intentions are riling some Democrats as challengers Ocasio-Cortez is financing are looking to unseat two Democratic members of Congress: Reps. Dan Lipinski of Illinois and Henry Cuellar of Texas.
“I would hope in the spirit of teamwork that we don’t see any further incursions with other members,” Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., said. “I would hope at least it stops there.”
But it seems like Ocasio-Cortez isn’t going to let up.
“Seventy percent of Americans live in a safe blue seat, or a safe red seat, which means the only choice that they have realistically is in their primary election,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “The idea that we should take democracy away from people is one that I fundamentally disagree with.”
While Ocasio-Cortez backs Sanders in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race, she doesn’t think she will drop out of the party and become an independent herself.
“Being a Democrat, it is a service,” she said. “It does serve me. I think I’m an independent thinker within the Democratic Party for sure. I do things that are unusual and unorthodox.”