Incoming Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has accused the Harvard Kennedy School’s freshman lawmaker orientation session—a gathering that has welcomed each new Congress since 1972—of being a “pro-corporate lobbyist project”
According to the Huffington Post, the three-day Harvard orientation was done “in collaboration with” the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the nonpartisan foreign policy-focused Center for Strategic International Studies. Though Harvard funded the entire event and did not take funds from either think tank, the outlet points that a lack of a similar liberal group is striking, considering how “the overwhelming majority of new members of Congress are Democrats.”
Right now Freshman members of Congress are at a “Bipartisan” orientation w/ briefings on issues.
Invited panelists offer insights to inform new Congressmembers‘ views as they prepare to legislate.
# of Corporate CEOs we’ve listened to here: 4
# of Labor leaders: 0
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 6, 2018
Ocasio-Cortez voiced concerns about the bipartisan gathering, arguing that it is made up of lobbyists and bankers and questioning the lack of labor leaders and grassroots activists.
Last Thursday, the congresswoman-elect tweeted out how the orientation included several corporate CEOS, yet zero labor leaders.
Our “bipartisan” Congressional orientation is cohosted by a corporate lobbyist group. Other members have quietly expressed to me their concern that this wasn’t told to us in advance.
Lobbyists are here. Goldman Sachs is here. Where‘s labor? Activists?Frontline community leaders?
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 6, 2018
On Sunday, AOC doubled down on her criticism of the orientation, explaining how the incoming lawmakers “heard things like ‘the $2T tax cut was great’ and ‘$15 wage is a bad idea.'”
“No labor reps were there,” she wrote. “Was this a multi-decade, pro-corporate lobbyist project the entire time?”
This Harvard session has been going on for new Congressmembers since the 70s.
This year we heard things like “the $2T tax cut was great” and “$15 wage is a bad idea.”
No labor reps were there.
Was this a multi-decade, pro-corporate lobbyist project the entire time? https://t.co/TgGR0sR4u4
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 9, 2018
Ocasio-Cortez was responding to the Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein, who tweeted that he had gotten his hands on a copy of the 2014 Harvard orientation schedule and that it “looked very similar.”
“At least 8 lobbyists are listed as panelists, several listed w/o disclosing ties to lobbying firms,” Stein said on Twitter. “CEOs of Xerox, American Express were there — no apparent labor leaders/activists.”
Whoah – looks like our Congressional orientation had a lot more lobbyists than we thought.
This is not okay. Lobbyists are not impartial – they are employed to influence legislation.
60+ incoming members were listening to panelists without knowing which were hired lobbyists. https://t.co/hDHagMNAJE
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 7, 2018
I got a copy of Harvard's 2014 orientation schedule, & it looks very similar
At least 8 lobbyists are listed as panelists, several listed w/o disclosing ties to lobbying firms
CEOs of Xerox, American Express were there — no apparent labor leaders/activists https://t.co/56JmhQtnSM
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) December 8, 2018
Rashida Tlaib, newly elected Democratic congresswoman and fellow Democratic Socialists of America member retweeted AOC, singling out former Trump White House economic advisor Gary Cohn for his patronizing remarks to the freshman lawmakers.
“Gary Cohn, former CEO Goldman Sachs addressing new members of Congress today: ‘You guys are way over your head, you don’t know how the game is played,'” tweeted Tlaib.
“No Gary, YOU don’t know what’s coming – a revolutionary Congress that puts people over profits.”
Gary Cohen, former CEO Goldman Sachs addressing new members of Congress today: "You guys are way over your head, you don't know how the game is played."
No Gary, YOU don't know what's coming – a revolutionary Congress that puts people over profits. https://t.co/ZLML2qzAW6
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) December 6, 2018
Many on Twitter appreciated Ocasio-Cortez’ candor and transparency, thanking the congresswoman-elect for sharing her “inside view” of Congress’ inner workings.
It's time other voices were invited to the party. This is the kind of quiet corruption that we all get to see….undermining real democracy. Thank you AOC!
— Shoeprints (@onebagel) December 7, 2018
In a single tweet, AOC has given people more honest insight into how the sausage is made on the Hill than most members will provide in their careers https://t.co/xPZZ2TIEna
— Sam Stein (@samstein) December 7, 2018
One of the best parts of @Ocasio2018's arrival in DC as a new leader is that she notices, and is revolted by, the corrupt, corparitist rituals that so embedded in DC culture that most politicians and journalists barely notice them, let alone find them objectionable or odd: https://t.co/wfmuFkpZll
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 6, 2018
It makes sense that the youngest person ever elected to the House of Representatives is using social media to interact and converse with voters. Still, AOC’s dedication to connect with Americans, even on a mass scale, is impressive—what other politician has recorded themselves making mac and cheese while discussing policy issues?
AOC’s frequent live videos resonate with many of those who had previously felt unimportant and ignored.
Most politicians spend their evenings having expensive dinners with rich donors. @Ocasio2018 spends her evening cooking with her donors, which are just regular people like me, a truck driver who just wants someone to represent my interests in DC. 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
— Joshua Collins 2020 (@Joshua_4_WA) November 19, 2018
.@Ocasio2018 is talking about the problem with cash bail while cutting chipotle chilis and making dinner. 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽
This is how you talk politics at the dinner table. I wish more politicians were real like this. pic.twitter.com/vlxoKAAKse
— Renee Bracey Sherman (@RBraceySherman) November 19, 2018
It’s saturday night but @Ocasio2018 is spending her evening in sweats on a zoom answering questions from @justicedems activists to take them through the green deal. Not your grandmother’s congress is an understatement. pic.twitter.com/Duy3oJNv6I
— Liz Plank (@feministabulous) November 18, 2018
mac n cheese in every instant pot and a candid conversation about why crushing student loans prevent many young people from owning of a car, never mind a garage https://t.co/Eq0EFl308R
— Alan Yuhas (@AlanYuhas) November 20, 2018
I am completely absorbed by @Ocasio2018's live story on Instagram right now. She's cooking dinner, answering questions, and talking policy. Something is happening here that we haven't quite seen before in politics…
— Adam B. Golub (@adamgolub) November 19, 2018
Leading many to finally feel justified in hoping that transparency within politics becomes the new normal.
h/t Huffington Post