During her campaign for Congress, and after her election, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY 14) portrayed herself as the antidote to corporate Democrats, who had gone tone-deaf to the suffering of average people. For decades, New Yorkers had been enduring horrifying Government policies set by neoliberalism and austerity. By running for office with help from the Democratic Socialists of America, U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez invoked her subscription to socialist ideology as a primary qualification for public office. Her campaign win was credited to Justice Democrats, a new political committee. Veterans of her campaign reportedly formed an outreach and get-out-the-vote arm of Justice Democrats, known as Movement School. That outreach arm is now engaged in dishonestly organising public housing tenants after U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez turned down a request in March to sponsor a budget resolution to fully-fund the local public housing authority.
Early in 2019, members of Fight For NYCHA approached U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s office with an opportunity for her to show leadership on the need to fully-fund the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, as the local public housing authority is known. Members of Fight For NYCHA had e-mail exchanges and several calls with staff, as well as in-office meeting with staff and with U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez herself. At first, Fight For NYCHA was requesting that U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez sponsor a budget resolution for the 2019-2020 Federal Budget in the full amount of NYCHA’s capital budget deficit, estimated to be $32 billion. Members of Fight For NYCHA described the Government’s divestment and neglect of public housing, and members of Fight For NYCHA noted that, as a result, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) was proposing to privatise public housing. Despite the dangerous conditions facing public housing tenants, the office of U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez turned down the funding request. After that request was turned down, members of Fight For NYCHA requested that U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez sponsor a budget resolution for only half the amount, and Fight For NYCHA members said that they would organise NYCHA tenants and request the remainder of the funding from City and State Governments. But that second request was also turned down.
On top of feeling betrayed by AOC, as the U.S. Representative is known, members of Fight For NYCHA sensed that AOC’s own political apparatus was going to take advantage of public housing tenants, who had been left unfunded by the socialist political superstar. The telephone discussions about the funding requests took place with Randy Abreu, an AOC Congressional staffer, who was a co-founder of Movement School. What members of Fight For NYCHA found troubling was that, on two occasions, Abreu said that, in the wake of U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez turning down the funding requests, Movement School would organise NYCHA public housing tenants. After AOC consulted with her staff on the budget resolution request, and after they made a decision to turn down the budget resolution request, Movement School was going to use the decision of their own making (the refusal to sponsor a budget resolution to fully-fund NYCHA) as a pretext to do outreach and recruiting for Justice Democrats.