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Ocasio-Cortez’s Campaign Spends Nearly $500 on Uber Despite Criticism

Freshman representative blamed company's success for taxi driver suicides

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez / Getty Images
• April 30, 2019 2:20 pm

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UPDATE 2:55 P.M.: Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's campaign office, not congressional office, has spent nearly $500 on Uber rides in the first quarter of 2019. This story has been corrected.

Freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) has repeatedly castigated ride-sharing giant Uber and blamed its "unregulated expansion" after a yellow cab driver committed suicide last year, but her campaign office has taken nearly $500 worth of Uber rides during the first quarter of 2019.

Ocasio-Cortez, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, criticized Uber several times on Twitter last year and blamed them for causing "financial ruin" to yellow cab drivers.

"NYC's fourth driver suicide. Yellow cab drivers are in financial ruin due to the unregulated expansion of Uber. What was a living wage job now pays under minimum," she tweeted.

The yellow cab driver, Doug Schifter, killed himself with a shotgun amid financial difficulties in response to multiple cheaper alternatives to the yellow taxi, as addressed in his Facebook status.

Ocasio-Cortez's campaign office recorded spending nearly $500 on 50 Uber rides between January and late March, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records. The Uber payments ranged from just $2.05 to $51.69 and were filed under "car service."

Her office recorded spending $1,344 on 49 Lyft rides between January and late March, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records. The Lyft payments ranged from $3.00 to $70.00 and were filed under "car service."

Lyft, which is one of Uber's ride-sharing competitors, saw its revenue soar to $1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017. Mic reported last year that Uber and Lyft have both driven New York City cab drivers to depression and debt due to increased competition.

Ocasio-Cortez's campaign staff recorded spending nearly $4,000 on 160 Uber rides between April and late June 2018, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records. The Uber payments ranged from just 59 cents to $82.26 and were filed under "car service," according to Fox News.

In her home state of New York, Ocasio-Cortez's campaign doesn't use the traditional yellow cabs for getting around either.

The FEC records show that the campaign spent nearly $2,500 for more than 90 rides with the so-called ride-sharing startup company Juno that pitched itself as an alternative to Uber for drivers as it offered slightly better pay and an option to accumulate the company's stock. There's no data yet for any rides taken by the Ocasio-Cortez campaign in July and August.

But the "driver-friendly" startup is barely any better for drivers than other ride-sharing companies. It was sold in April to Israel-based Gett for $200 million and immediately came under fire for scrapping the stock unit program for its drivers.

This prompted a class action by Juno drivers. "Plaintiffs were victims of the classic ‘bait and switch' scheme – promised equity and then paid off at pennies on the dollar when all other shareholders/investors made out handsomely," the suit reads.