MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” panel rebuked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday for her apparent failure to open a local office in New York City to serve her constituents after almost two months on the job.
Ocasio-Cortez (pictured above) was sworn into office on January 3. She pulled a stunning upset victory in the 2018 Democratic primary when she ousted then-incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), the former chairman of the House Democratic Caucus who had served in Congress for 20 years.
Although she portrays herself as totally in tune with her constituents and their needs, Ocasio-Cortez’s lack of a local NYC office compromises that image.
Her office is set to open in Jackson Heights on March 4, according to the Jackson Heights Post.
On the congresswoman’s official website, the local office is listed as “under construction.”
“Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski pointed to a report from The New York Times that noted Ocasio-Cortez is the only freshman Congress member of the four from New York who has yet to open a local office.
Brzezinski also pointed to an Instagram post the Democratic socialist wrote last year in which she asked her followers, “Would you rather have a Congress member with an amazing local services office or one that leads nationally on issues?”
Ocaiso-Cortez blamed the delay in opening her local office on landlord and rent issues back in January, noting she initially wanted to take over Crowley’s office.
“Office update/NYC Rent life: although we attempted to take over our predecessor’s lease, the landlord wanted to almost double rent (from ~$7.8k/mo to $15k/mo). That spike would have meant less caseworkers for our community. Instead, we’re making a new space w/ a family business!” the congresswoman tweeted.
Office update/NYC Rent life: although we attempted to take over our predecessor’s lease, the landlord wanted to almost double rent (from ~$7.8k/mo to $15k/mo).
That spike would have meant less caseworkers for our community. Instead, we’re making a new space w/ a family business! pic.twitter.com/PrM8E1v8wh
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@RepAOC) January 22, 2019
Co-host Joe Scarborough said he “thought it was a hoax” when he first heard reports that the congresswoman had yet to open her local office.
Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, said he “didn’t think it was possible to serve in Congress without local constituent offices.”
An incredulous Scarborough said, “Everybody I know, at least, focused on setting up that local office first because that’s where the rubber meets the road.”
“That’s where you serve your constituents the most,” he added.
Former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), now a political analyst for NBC and MSNBC, joined the co-hosts and chimed in on the issue. McCaskill lost her re-election bid to Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) in 2018.
“And here’s what I would say to the congresswoman. I think she is amazing, enthusiastic and passionate, but she’s missing out on, in my opinion, one of the best parts of the job,” McCaskill warned as she talked about “the reward you get for dealing with your constituents one on one.”
“It will really put a spring in your step when she begins to realize that that local piece of it will sustain her. It will allow her to soar to even higher heights if she focuses on both, and she can and I’m sure she will,” McCaskill said. “But it is weird she has obviously relegated this to something that is slightly less important.”
Scarborough agreed it was “weird,” noting that members of Congress should be able to “influence national policies” and “be incredible with your constituent services.”
McCaskill said, “So I’m not chastising her. I’m not criticizing her. I’m saying, don’t miss out on this part. You’ll be sorry if you do. It’s incredibly rewarding.”
McCaskill has criticized Ocasio-Cortez in the past. In December she ranted to Bloomberg. “I worked on a bill that brought down the price of hearing aids. It was a big deal because hearing aids aren’t covered by Medicare. But nobody wrote about it, so nobody knew about it … But there is so much drama over that New York woman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, like she’s the new shining object.”
Ocasio-Cortez fired back in December, tweeting, “Not sure why fmr Sen. McCaskill keeps going on TV to call me a ‘thing’ and ‘shiny object,’ but it’s pretty disappointing. McCaskill promised she’d ‘100 percent back Trump up’ on his anti-immigrant rhetoric & lost. In MO, almost all progressive ballot issues won.”
Not sure why fmr Sen. McCaskill keeps going on TV to call me a “thing” and “shiny object,” but it’s pretty disappointing.
McCaskill promised she’d “100% back Trump up” on his anti-immigrant rhetoric & lost. In MO, almost all progressive ballot issues won. https://t.co/53qKvnr8KG
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 29, 2018
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