Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) spent the opening weeks of the coronavirus outbreak in her luxury Washington, D.C., apartment as the deadly virus ravaged her New York City district.
On April 1, Ocasio-Cortez held a "virtual forum" with New York City constituents from her lavish apartment building in D.C.'s swanky Navy Yard neighborhood. Her Democratic primary opponent, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, criticized the freshman lawmaker's absence.
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"She is out of touch," Caruso-Cabrera said in a statement. "For weeks families have been worried about where they are going to get their next paycheck. AOC hasn't been here to see their desperation and their struggle to survive. Why is she in DC when Congress isn't in session?"
A spokeswoman for Ocasio-Cortez confirmed that the freshman lawmaker remained in D.C. for nearly a week following the House's coronavirus stimulus bill vote on March 27. Congress adjourned for at least three weeks following the vote.
Since emerging as a Democratic political juggernaut, Ocasio-Cortez has faced scrutiny for living a lavish lifestyle while posturing as a champion of the working class. When in Washington, the freshman congresswoman resides in a luxury apartment building where rent for a small studio exceeds $2,000 a month.
In her forum, Ocasio-Cortez noted that her district, which covers portions of the Bronx and Queens, is among the "hardest hit" by the virus in New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic in America. The two boroughs are first and second, respectively, in cases per 100,000 people, according to city health officials. Caruso-Cabrera said long lines for food and medicine in the district were a far cry from the Whole Foods located adjacent to Ocasio-Cortez's building.
"I have seen the lines outside drug stores, grocery stores, and hospitals…. Every day I see the looks in people's eyes. AOC is not seeing those looks because she is not here," Caruso-Cabrera said. "She has been holed up at a brand new luxury apartment where she shops at the Whole Foods in the lobby."
Ocasio-Cortez did not respond to a request for comment.
Caruso-Cabrera has come out swinging since launching her bid to unseat Ocasio-Cortez. The former CNBC anchor and reporter is attempting to pull off an upset against a powerful Democratic incumbent just as Ocasio-Cortez did against Rep. Joe Crowley in 2018. Crowley, who was the fourth-highest-ranking Democrat at the time, fell to the firebrand progressive by nearly 15 points despite outspending her 18-to-1. Ocasio-Cortez criticized Crowley during her 2018 campaign for spending too much time away from New York City, saying he "doesn't live here, doesn't send his kids to our school, doesn't drink our water or breathe our air, [and] cannot possibly represent us."
Ocasio-Cortez marked her return to New York City last week by sharing a photo of her purebred French bulldog in a Carhartt coat, noting, "All that's missing with his outfit is some timbs," a reference to Timberland boots. Animal-rights activists criticized Ocasio-Cortez for purchasing the purebred French bulldog instead of adopting—the dogs cost around $2,000 on the East Coast.
Ocasio-Cortez moved into her luxury Navy Yard apartment in 2019 after expressing concern that she would be unable to afford D.C. rent. The building boasts an abundance of amenities, including an indoor pool, rooftop pool, rooftop dog park, Peloton cycling studio, yoga studio, private massage rooms with hydromassage beds, a golf simulator, basketball court, racquetball court, and rooftop tennis court. Ocasio-Cortez downplayed the extravagances in June, saying that a New York City public housing complex she toured looked "just like my luxury apartment."
Fawning media reports during Ocasio-Cortez's 2018 campaign falsely indicated that the Democrat's family had to "fight off foreclosure" on their Bronx apartment in 2008. Though Ocasio-Cortez did not correct the reports, city records show the mortgage on the Bronx apartment was satisfied in June 2007. The Daily Mail later revealed that her father purchased a second residence 30 miles north of New York City in Westchester County, where the family moved when she was a young child.
Ocasio-Cortez went on to live in the Bronx apartment after graduating college in 2011, paying nothing but homeowners' association fees and property taxes. She moved to a larger residence in 2019.