Progressive PAC Linked to Ocasio-Cortez Escalates Attacks Against DCCC

Fundraising email alleges corporate PAC donations have corrupted some in Dem caucus

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez / Getty Images

Justice Democrats, a PAC that helped send Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Congress in 2018, launched another attack against the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, one of the biggest and most important establishment fundraising operations for House Democrats.

In a fundraising email, Justice Democrats blasted the DCCC for accepting corporate PAC money, suggesting it had corrupted the committee and some members of the party on policy issues such as health care and the Green New Deal:

Across the country, Democratic candidates are finally starting to embrace the progressive goal of refusing all corporate PAC donations. Justice Democrats swore off corporate PACs from the very beginning, and we're glad many of our fellow Democrats are finally following suit.

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But apparently, the DCCC didn't get the memo that voters aren't happy about selling out their interests to the health care, insurance, oil, gas, and coal lobbies.

In just the first quarter of 2019, the DCCC accepted over $440,000 from corporate lobbyists and bundlers — many who coincidentally have fought ferociously against Medicare for All, and a Green New Deal.

And then, purely by chance we're sure, DCCC chair Cheri Bustos went on the record saying that the "price tag for Medicare for all is a little scary." Meanwhile, former members of Congress turned pharma lobbyists have raised $10,000s on behalf of the DCCC.

The email comes roughly one week after Justice Democrats launched a website, DCCCBlacklist.com, in protest of a new policy by the DCCC of refusing to do business with vendors who work with any candidate running a primary challenge to an incumbent Democrat.

"The DCCC is using their financial leverage to intimidate and blacklist many hardworking people in our movement in a blatant attempt to protect a handful of out-of-touch incumbents," the website says.

"We're launching The Blacklist to fight back and provide potential primary challengers with a database of go-to vendors, organizations, and consultants who will continue to support efforts to usher in a new generation of leaders into the Democratic Party."

The fundraising email is notable because it goes a step beyond the main grievances listed on the website and accuses the DCCC of being corrupted by campaign donations, and pandering "to the interests of Medicare-for-all sabotaging, and climate denying corporations," amounting to a "betrayal of our Democratic and progressive values."

All of which points to the continuing notion that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.,) has remained unable to corral the progressive flank in the Democrat caucus, something she has struggled with since the new Congress was sworn in in January.

Pelosi appeared to take a small swipe at Ocasio-Cortez earlier in the week.

"While there are people who have a large number of Twitter followers, what's important is that we have large numbers of votes on the floor of the House," Pelosi said to USA Today, appearing to make reference to the nearly four million followers of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.

While many political pundits have drawn analogies on the tension between the progressive flank and Pelosi to the tussles between the Republican "Freedom Caucus" and former Speaker John Boehner, the Freedom Caucus never advocated for or tried to build an apparatus to circumvent traditional elements of the party machinery such as the National Republican Congressional Committee.

"It's similar to what we, as Republicans, dealt with when we were in the majority," former Republican Rep. Ryan Costello told USA Today in the same article in which Pelosi mentioned Ocasio-Cotez's Twitter followers. "You have an ascendant left that is very angry, very blunt, frankly a little irresponsible in the things they say. And the base soaks it up."

At the same time, Justice Democrats is working to aid a primary challenge against Democratic Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas. A separate fundraising appeal by Justice Democrats referred to Cuellar as "the most conservative Democrat in Congress," according to OpenSecrets.com.

Justice Democrats is also associated with freshmen Democrat representatives Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), all of whom have had controversial starts to their congressional tenure.

Requests for comment to the DCCC, the office of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Cheri Bustos, and Justice Democrats were not returned.