FACT CHECK: Is US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez an Actress Playing a Congresswoman? – Snopes.com

FACT CHECK: Is US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez an Actress Playing a Congresswoman? - Snopes.com

AOC draws ire ripping your thoughts and prayers after Christchurch mosque shootings

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an actress playing a congresswoman to push the agenda of Justice Democrats.

In March 2019, our inbox started to fill with queries from readers who had heard that U. S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was an actress who was playing the role of congresswoman in order to further the agenda of a political group. These questions were based on a popular video entitled The Brains Behind AOC Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by YouTube user Mr. Reagan.

The congresswoman was referencing the 2015 Charleston shooting at the Emmanuel A.M.E. Church that left nine dead, the 2017 Sutherland Springs shooting at the First Baptist Church that left 27 dead, and the 2018 Pittsburgh shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue that left 11 dead.

The video, which can be viewed at the end of this article, hits on a number of issues in its 23 minutes, but the essential argument is that Ocasio-Cortez was cast by the group Justice Democrats into the role of congresswoman, and that she is merely a figurehead (or puppet congresswoman) pushing the groups agenda. 

Mr. Reagan: Alexandria Ocasio Cortez is not really the congresswoman of new yorks 14th congressional district. She is essentially an actress. Shes merely playing the part of a New York Congresswoman. I know this sounds crazy. But bare with me.

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In 2017, a group called the Justice Democrats held auditions for potential congressional candidates that would run on their platform for various congressional seats throughout the country. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez brother Gabriel submitted her for the role. Now Ive auditioned for many acting roles in my day. Ive also cast many of my own projects. I know how this works. If you find somebody with star power, even if they dont 100% fit the part, you go with it.

Obviously AOC has star power. Just look at her. Shes a superstar. The most famous person in congress, maybe ever. Their casting was perfect. Now I didnt have to go digging for evidence for this, because they freely admit it. They brag about it.

“What good are your thoughts & prayers when they don’t even keep the pews safe?” she asked.

Cut to Alexandra Rojas. Executive Director Justice Democrats, saying: Back in 2016, we put out a call for nominations. We got over 10,000 nominations, out of those 10,000 nominations we found Alexandria.

It remains to be seen whether the drop in net favorability will affect Ocasio-Cortez’s ambitious policy goals, including her Green New Deal plan to address climate change. The plan has excited the Democratic grassroots, but it has also been derided by many as unrealistic. President Trump has panned the plan as socialist and compared it to a “high school term paper that got a low mark,” while Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi has called it a “green dream.”

Cut to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, saying: My brother told me that he had sent my nominations in the summer but I was like literally working out of a restaurant and I was like theres no way.

In September, just after she burst onto the national stage by ousting ten-term incumbent Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th district, about half of American adults either did not recognize Ocasio-Cortez’s name or had no opinion of her, according to a Gallup poll released Friday. By this month, only 29 percent said the same.

Back to Mr. Reagan: A casting call. They had a casting call. They cast Alexandria Ocasio Cortez in the role of congresswoman. And they did this so they could promote their own agenda.

Mr. Reagan repeatedly used words such as role, audition, casting call and labeled Ocasio-Cortez essentially an actress in this video in an apparent attempt to paint the congresswoman with the same conspiratorial brush used to promote crisis actor and paid protester conspiracy theories. Ironically, the only actor in this scenario is Chris Kohls, who plays the character of Mr. Reagan.

Kohls told us in an email that the use of the word actress was illustrative. He continued: I did not mean to suggest that this was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezs actual profession or an official role. I thought this was clear. While Kohls admits that the congresswoman was not an actress in the literal sense, he said that he still believes she audition(ed) for the role of congress woman as a response to an open casting call by Justice Democrats.

Of course, theres no contradiction between praying and taking action. In this particular case, current laws already should have prevented the shooter, Devin Kelley, from obtaining a gun—and it certainly makes sense for Americans to demand the Air Force take action to ensure anyone else with a record like the shooters is entered in the correct databases so this doesnt happen again.

AOC did, however, audition for the role of congress woman as a response to an open casting call by Justice Democrats.

I have never heard of an organization holding auditions, open to the public, for congressional seats.

Perhaps I am naive about that. I have never heard of this, and the response to my video suggests that most Americans find it inappropriate as well.

When it was his turn, he took to asking quite ardently for a white car. He had spotted this glistening white model of a car at Toys R Us, one of those cars that kids could ride, and he evidently quite liked the thought of himself zipping through our backyard in this sporty car. Every night, he would pray with real fervor that he would get this white car.

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The Brains Behind AOC video correctly states that Ocasio-Cortez was recruited by the Justice Democrats to run for office. However, this fact is presented in the video as if it were an unprecedented act of political malfeasance. In reality, it is quite common for Political Action Committees (PACs) to recruit candidates for office. The Justice Democrats made no attempt to hide this effort and openly discuss their recruitment process on their website and in videos published to their public YouTube page:

TwitterEmailYesterday, a frenzy erupted when Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez informed Twitter that she was embarking on her latest D.C. adventure—furnishing her apartment—and asked for input on which five pieces of furniture she should buy first. Recommendations for bookshelves, beds, and chairs came pouring in (her tweet currently has 16,000 comments), not to mention an incredible discourse on bath towels. Apartment life being one of Clever's main beats, we had to add our own two cents. To furnish her apartment efficiently but effectively, AOC will need pieces that reflect her style and her values. Think smart, practical, democratic designs that are built to last, but chic enough to project her progressive modernity. Here's where we suggest she begin:

PACs, which have been around since the 1940s, are organizations that raise money to help run campaigns for or against political candidates. While these groups may throw their support behind existing candidates who they believe will further their cause, they also recruit like-minded candidates and help them get elected to office. We conducted a brief search for other PACs that publish recruitment material and found numerous of organizations that actively seek candidates for political positions, such as  Brand New Congress, Run for Something, Emilys List, BRAT-PAC, The National Federation for Republican Women, Winning for Women, American Possibilities, Elevate-Pac, The Collective Pac, and Principled Pac.

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In the case of the Justice Democrats, their main platform ideas are Medicare for All, protecting the environment, and racial justice. Mr. Reagan would have viewers believe that Ocasio-Cortez had no interest in politics before she was cast by the Justice Democrats, and that she was only taking up these causes because she was a puppet congresswoman. But that isnt the case. Before Ocasio-Cortez ran for office, she volunteered for Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign (a candidate who supports the same issues as the Justice Democrats). She was also involved in the Standing Rock protests and talked about issues such as civil rights, social change, and income equality before receiving support from the Justice Democrats. 

Why round? A circular design takes up less space, which is crucial when you live in an apartment. (And it suits AOC's equality-based approach to politics: A round table means that everyone gets a say.) Specifically, we can picture her and her formidable colleagues gathered around DesignByThem's Confetti table, debating the finer points of the Green New Deal late into the night. Its playful base is made from 100 percent recycled plastic, after all.

The fact that she shares these beliefs is not proof that Justice Democrats are controlling her. Its merely evidence that AOC and the Justice Democrats were a good fit. 

AOC is a little unconventional, so why shouldn't her living room layout be, too? Rather than buy a chair, she should invest in a modular sofa, like the Palo from Hem, that can easily go from L-shaped sectional to separate sofa and chair and back again. Alexandria will easily be able to move the mix-and-match pieces to accommodate anything from home-alone reading to election-night watch parties.

While Mr. Reagan argues in The Brains Behind AOC that Ocasio-Cortez is a puppet congresswoman controlled by the Justice Democrats, Kohls told us, again, that this was pure speculation:

Whether they do it or not, everyone knows that getting enough sleep is one of the keys to health and productivity—two things AOC needs maximum amounts of if she's going to succeed in fighting the powers that be. And that means she'll need a good bed. We like the BRIMNES bed from IKEA because of its streamlined frame with storage underneath, ideal for small spaces.

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My assertion is that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is presenting ideas to congress and to the public as of they are her own, but that they are not her own. They are the idea of the Justice Democrats and that this group, in particular Saikat Chakrabarti, are drafting everything for her. When I say everything I mean her official proposals to congress, her answers to questions by the media, her tweets and her unofficial propositions to the public.

In a follow-up post in her thread, Ocasio-Cortez attempted to clarify her comments, stating that the “Thoughts and prayers” she mentioned was a reference to the National Rifle Association (NRA) use of the phrase to “deflect conversation” from policy change. She also clarified that it was not a jab at New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who she had linked to in her post.

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Mr. Reagan argues in Brains Behind AOC that Ocasio-Cortez does not make her own policy decisions… decides which way she votes on legislation but that she defers completely to her team. In addition to admitting in his email that these claims are based purely on speculation, this argument also appears to be based on a fundamental misunderstanding of how politicians operate. 

“At 1st I thought of saying, ‘Imagine being told your house of faith isnt safe anymore.’ But I couldnt say ‘imagine’ Because of Charleston. Pittsburgh. Sutherland Springs.” she wrote on Twitter. “What good are your thoughts & prayers when they dont even keep the pews safe?”

While the public may be more familiar with the names and faces of senators and representatives, lawmakers have teams of people behind them that help guide them through interviews, debates, public messaging, and other political responsibilities. In short, it is not uncommon for a lawmaker to prepare for an interview or speech with the help of her staff.  

Video footage widely circulated on social media, apparently taken by a gunman and posted online live as the attack unfolded, showed him driving to a mosque, entering it, and shooting randomly at people inside. Health authorities said an additional 48 people were being treated for gunshot wounds, including young children.

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Saikat Chakrabarti, the congresswomans chief of staff, pushed back on the Brains Behind AOC video and said that Ocasio-Cortez does more than most lawmakers when it comes to her own messaging:

The right-wing actually cannot believe that a working class latina like @AOC is smart, talented, and capable. They are creating entire conspiracy theories to try to disprove her intelligence. So heres some @AOC facts to show yall just how good she is.

1) @AOC runs her own Twitter/IG. This is VERY rare in Congress. Most politicians have staff come up with what to say/figure out how to frame things. But @AOCs knowledge of issues is so deep that she does the communicating/framing herself.

Omar has been mired in accusations of anti-Semitism during much of her tenure in Congress. At an event in Washington, D.C. last month, she said she wanted “to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” She did not apologize for her comments and repeated the anti-Semitic dual-loyalty canard in tweets directed at fellow Democratic congresswoman Nita Lowey (D., N.Y.).

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2) @AOC writes all her own speeches. Though, TBH, most of her 🔥 speeches are off the dome. Just watch Coates interview her. She can talk in depth on policy issues for hours (unlike most politicians) because she REALLY knows what shes talking about.

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3) Unlike most MoCs [members of Congress], @AOC sits through full committee hearings and will often improvise on questions based on what shes observing. Nobody prepped her to play a game in the HR1 hearing, and her entire staff watched it live with jaws dropped.

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4) @AOC is one of the smartest & hardest working people Ive ever known. Right wingers not comprehending this is peak racism/sexism — and also fear. If @AOC can do this, whats to stop other talented working-class women of color from vying for power? Must keep em up at night.

“We all won in districts when we were accused of being somebody else, or something else,” Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D., Va.) said, referring to the GOP attaching 2018 Democratic candidates to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), who was then the minority leader.

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For those unfamiliar with political action committees or political advisers, The Brains Behind AOC may appear to be a well-produced video featuring a convincing narrative of how a political group cast a star into the role of congresswoman in order to further their agenda. However, the arguments made in this video are pure speculation and seem to largely be based on a misunderstanding of how PACs operate. Its actually rather common for PACs, such as Justice Democrats, to seek out candidates, such as Ocasio-Cortez, who share their core beliefs, and even more commonplace for politicians to seek out the advice of their staff.

Boston University Student Activities.   Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.     Retrieved 13 March 2019.

Weigel, David.   Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: The Democrat Who Challenged Her Partys Establishment — and Won.     The Washington Post.   27 June 2018.

Solnit, Rebecca.   Standing Rock Inspired Ocasio-Cortez to Run. Thats the Power of Protest.     The Guardian.   14 January 2019.

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