Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s latest tweet is yet another example of how money influences politics. This time she focused on how lobbyists pay people, including those experiencing homelessness, to hold their place in line outside committee hearings at the U.S. Capitol.
As she explains in her tweet, Ocasio-Cortez was leaving a hearing on homelessness when she saw people “camped” outside the committee. She wondered if it was a demonstration. Her staff explained that lobbyists pay people to stand in line.
As the congresswoman noted, “the first few people in line are guaranteed a seat in a given hearing.” Ocasio-Cortez described her reaction upon learning about this little-discussed practice as “shock doesn’t begin to cover it.”
Apparently this is a normal practice, and people don’t bat an eye.
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.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 13, 2019
Since starting her tenure as a Democratic congresswoman in Washington, D.C., Ocasio-Cortez has tweeted about her experiences, sharing a picture of the supportive Post-it notes she received, a video of her breaking down America’s campaign finance system, and now, an inside look at one way lobbyists get access to politicians.
“Apparently this is a normal practice, and people don’t bat an eye,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a follow-up tweet.
And she’s right. Lobbyists have done this for years. In 2009, CNN reported that “line-standers,” like the ones Ocasio-Cortez saw, could wait 20 to 30 hours for big hearings and were paid between $11 to $35 an hour.
While Ocasio-Cortez can’t fix or transform ethical issues like this one overnight, at least she’s trying to be transparent by showing ordinary Americans what the political system is really like.