Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Said She Is ‘Funded By The People,’ But Collected Maximum Donation From Billionaire

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First-term New York congressional representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke at a rally for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Saturday, where she blasted political candidates who take donations from billionaires and other wealthy donors, according to a New York Post report.

But Ocasio-Cortez herself, in her upstart 2018 congressional campaign, collected a donation from billionaire former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, who is now a Democratic candidate for president himself. According to public records posted online by OpenSecrets.org, Steyer gave Ocasio-Cortez $2,700, the maximum amount allowed by campaign finance law for an individual contributor.

Steyer also donated to a wide range of Democratic candidates. In addition to Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most left-wing members of the Democratic congressional caucus, Steyer also gave the maximum donation to candidates on the conservative end of the party’s ideological spectrum. This included candidates such as Florida rep Charlie Crist, who was once that state’s Republican governor, and Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema, according to the OpenSecrets.org postings.

At the Saturday Sanders rally, Ocasio-Cortez responded to critics who have described scrutiny of candidates for the wealth of their donors as “purity tests.” Instead, Ocasio-Cortez said, refusing billionaire donations should be called “giving a damn.”

“It’s called having values,” she said. “It’s called having standards for your conduct to not be funded by billionaires but to be funded by the people.”

Billionaire Tom Steyer poses with one of his billboards.
Tom Steyer formerly led a campaign to impeach Donald Trump.Featured image credit: Spencer PlattGetty Images

Though Cortez also says that she does not accept donations from large political action committees, she has accepted $5,000 from the Machinists/Aerospace Workers Union PAC for her 2020 reelection campaign, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Ocasio-Cortez led the opposition to a proposal by online retail giant Amazon to build a corporate headquarters in Long Island City, a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens. But campaign finance records show that she has accepted $5,480 in donations from individuals affiliated with Amazon, for her 2020 campaign.

She has also taken more than $12,000 from Google, in individual donations, and more than $5,000 from individuals associated with Facebook. In addition, she has accepted about $5,100 from individuals affiliated with Selendy & Gay, a New York City law firm primarily owned by women.

In total, the 30-year-old Ocasio-Cortez has so far accepted $55,031 in donations from lawyers and other individuals associated with law firms. But her most prolific 2020 donors are retirees, who have given more than $200,000 to her campaign for reelection.

A spokesperson for Steyer said that he was “proud” to have donated to Ocasio-Cortez, according to the New York Post report, calling the Bronx, New York City, native “a champion for working families in the Bronx and all across our country.”