Liberal firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., rode into Washington on a wave of viral internet fame as a grassroots crusader against big money in politics.
While most Americans don’t agree with her self-described “democratic socialist” philosophy, some of her early moments in Congress made people on both sides of the aisle cheer as she exposed how dark money and other forms of hidden cash fuel the D.C. machine.
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It was an attack on the entrenched camps in both parties – a tirade against what President Donald Trump called “the swamp.”
Now, less than two years into her tenure, it’s looking increasingly like Ocasio-Cortez might be turning into a Swamp Thing herself.
Twitter user Liz Burgh did a deep dive into Ocasio-Cortez’s public financial disclosures.
And what she uncovered was absolutely stunning.
Ocasio-Cortez has one of the safest seats in the House.
She beat her 2020 Republican opponent, John Cummings, by a nearly 40-point margin in a race that never had a shred of doubt over the outcome.
Yet she raised… and spent… incredible sums of money in the process.
She took in nearly $18 million for the cycle – and spent more than $14 million of that dough, according to the documents shared by Burgh and confirmed with the FEC by The Horn News.
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What’s more, just 4.1 percent of those contributions came from within her own district… and she had the fewest number of named donors, meaning much of the money was likely small contributions from undisclosed sources.
All perfectly legal. But all very swampy, too.
Open Secrets says her race was the second most expensive House battle of 2020. The only one that cost more was that of Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who was in a similarly non-competitive race (and won by nearly 50 points).
Even the normally liberal New York Times couldn’t help but notice the amounts of money on the line, running an October article with the headline, “If A.O.C. Is So Heavily Favored, Why Has Her Race Drawn $30 Million?”
NYT noted that Ocasio-Cortez… who has loudly criticized political ads on Facebook… spent $1.6 million of that cash on Facebook ads.
Burgh’s deeper dive shows Ocasio-Cortez spent even more on Facebook earlier in the campaign season. She took out some $4.8 million in national Facebook ads, including ads running far from her district in places such as California and Washington state.
It could be a sign that Ocasio-Cortez has aspirations far beyond New York’s 14th congressional district – and a flex to show rivals she can raise the cash needed to meet those aspirations.
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But that’s just scratching the surface when it comes to Ocasio-Cortez’s secret relationship with money.
But it took a hit from a major nonpartisan organization called Issue One.
Issue One, dedicated to campaign finance reform, has decried these types of PACs, which in the past have been used as “slush funds” by the political figures behind them.
Issue One said last year:
“During the final three months of 2018 alone, some members of Congress used leadership PACs to pay for trips to Puerto Rico and London, dues to exclusive social clubs, tickets to the Churchill Downs racetrack (home of the Kentucky Derby), and stays at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. — all while not giving the majority of their funds away to other candidates.”
There’s no indication Ocasio-Cortez has used her own leadership PAC in this way.
But it sure is curious that someone so publicly opposed to these kinds of fundraising efforts would then form a leadership PAC of her own.
There’s no allegation of anything illegal with the rest of her finances, either. But the staggering numbers appear to fly in the face of the Ocasio-Cortez’s supposed principles and priorities, the same ones she sold to her voters.
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Like many Democrats and Republicans alike, she came into town promising to change business as usual.
Instead, she’s already become part of the very money machine she once railed against.
— Walter W. Murray is a reporter for The Horn News. He is an outspoken conservative and a survival expert, and is the author of “America’s Final Warning.”