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AOC Exposes How Lobbyists Exploit The Homeless

“Shock doesn’t begin to cover it,” said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a tweet Wednesday. The freshman congresswoman had just discovered a common practice by Washington lobbyists after asking her staff why there was a long line of people “camped outside committee,” thinking it might be a protest.

Instead, she found out that they were homeless individuals who had been paid by lobbyists to hold their place in line all day so that they can get into a hearing.

“Apparently this is a normal practice, and people don’t bat an eye,” wrote Ocasio-Cortez. “The first few people in line are guaranteed a seat in a given hearing.”

“This was the hearing for marijuana banking laws. Lobbyists and those who can afford it pay people to hold their spot so they get in 1st.”

This is yet another sketchy political practice that the young congresswoman has exposed since taking office in January. Recently, a video of her outlining the way the U.S. legal system allows and even encourages political corruption became “the most viewed video of any politician in Twitter history,” according to Newsweek.

Paying homeless people to wait in line is yet another way that people with money can get an easy edge in U.S. politics. Lobbyists simply have to place a piece of paper with their name on the floor beside the individual standing in line for them while they go off and make even more money.

This same practice was common in the Supreme Court until they changed the rules to end the practice in 2015, forcing people who actually wanted to be present in the courtroom to stand in line themselves.

“The court announced on its first day of the new term Monday something that previously had seemed unnecessary to spell out: ‘Only Bar members who actually intend to attend argument will be allowed in the line for the Bar section; ‘line standers’ will not be permitted.'”

According to the Washington Post, the line-standing business is a big deal, with lobbyists paying people $6,000 to stand in line for multiple days when it comes to hearings on topics such as same-sex marriage and gun rights.

Aside from various asinine comments about this being a good policy because it means homeless people get paid (regardless of the fact that they don’t get any kind of worker rights for holding lobbyists’ place in line), people are as shocked and outraged as Ocasio-Cortez.

Some currently or formerly homeless people also added their voices to the fray — not shocked, but offering insight into practices like these and how the homeless are regularly exploited.

If anyone can and will do something about this kind of exploitation, it’s the AOC. Watch out, lobbyists.