“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.
Shock doesn’t begin to cover it.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 13, 2019
Today I left a hearing on homelessness & saw tons of people camped outside committee.
I turned to my staff and asked if it was a demonstration.
“No,” they said. “Lobbyists pay the homeless + others to hold their place so they can get in 1st.” pic.twitter.com/mXbgqkKp4P
“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.
The pieces of paper on the floor are the names of the lobbyists whose place they’re holding. This dude, for example, lobbies for a company called Canndescent ($360,000) and the Nat’l Cannabis Industry Assocation ($120,000). https://t.co/bRQHf183BY pic.twitter.com/P9fHnFyGZN— Every Billionaire Is A Policy Failure (@DanRiffle) February 13, 2019
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.
What’s incredible about this tweet is how this is damning to every single goddamn politician who hasn’t mentioned it. They’ve ALL seen this sort of thing before and they’re all letting it go on.— DSA Jakku 🌹 (@skitter_mouse) February 13, 2019
it would be fantastic if the politicians allowed the homeless to stay in line (that is, don't let the lobbyists come back and swap in) and met with them instead of the lobbyists— Matunos🧙♂️ (@matunos) February 13, 2019
Lobbying is sanctioned bribery of government officials and should be outlawed.— Googlybear (@Googlybearhug4u) February 13, 2019
Lobbyists should lobby the people, then the people can instruct their representatives how to vote.
Lobby moneys could best be used to improve parks, schools and their security, sidewalks, etc, etc.
Dear. Sweet. Jesus.— Brunette Bohemian (@RSun82) February 13, 2019
Just end it all. End it all now. Burn the whole planet down and start over.
Keeps proving there is a important job for young reps: fresh eyes on the scene, is critical.— Miss Alissa (@themstems) February 13, 2019
This is beyond disgusting,a country will be judged by how they treat the most vulnerable,that being the standard than the US will be given a harsh sentence.This is supposed to be the best country in the world,compared to what?— David Monroe (@DavidMo65225924) February 13, 2019
Pay to play to the T.— Behdad Rezai (@Tachocline) February 13, 2019
I have a better suggestion: seize the lobbyists’s assets and give them to the homeless people— dave (@daaaavveeee) February 13, 2019
That needs to go along with campaign finance reform! So tired of industry influencing our government.— Andrea DeSantis DO (@adesantisb) February 13, 2019
The whole system is pay to play! I wish you luck in trying to change the hold corporate America has on every bit of legislation that is passed that ends up benefiting them on the backs of the working class. Our system is so broken it makes me sick!— 37 Years (@poundthetin) February 13, 2019
You're saying that there's more accountability and fairness in a rock concert line than in congress? Shocked.— Musicandmemes (@Musicandmemes5) February 13, 2019
The fact that there are so many ways this could be easily fixed tells us the people in control don't *want* it to be fixed.— Mike Schiraldi (@MikeSchiraldi) February 13, 2019
The shock is it took this long for someone to ask and share the info with us. WTF else are your coworkers, OUR EMPLOYEES hiding???— Ryszard 🌈Kilarski (@ryszardwithaz) February 13, 2019
This is like something straight right out of Veep.— Mark Russell (@Manruss) February 13, 2019
Lobbyists probably think they are providing those in poverty with employment. Problems is it comes from a place that is selfish and self-serving...usery at its best. #BeTheChange— Brian Archie (@bsarchiesr) February 13, 2019
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.
This exploitation does not help their self-worth, it exploits their lack of it.— Nathaniel Guthrie (@VengeanceMail) February 13, 2019
The homeless are treated like addicts, throw away, cast off and seen as doing anything for a little money.
What helps is programs to end homelessness, rental assistance, healthcare, 2/
And now, 20 years later, I have a house and family, I have owned businesses and I am now in school to get my Supply chain management degree. But I still remember. I still see the way people looked at me and look at others now.— Nathaniel Guthrie (@VengeanceMail) February 13, 2019
The wounds are real and lasting, 4/
That is what this picture is.— Nathaniel Guthrie (@VengeanceMail) February 13, 2019
It is the lobbyist saying, "these people have nothing better to do, they aren't a ything more than a stand in for ME".
The lobbyists don't value their humanity, just their utility. They are seen as interchangeable and without merit. That is wrong.5
If anyone can and will do something about this kind of exploitation, it’s the AOC. Watch out, lobbyists.