By Lukas Mikelionis, ,
Published August 24, 2018
New York Socialist Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez once blamed ride-sharing giant Uber for leading a yellow cab driver to suicide. Her campaign then took $4,000 worth of Uber rides.
But Ocasio-Cortez, who rose to prominence after defeating top Democrat Joe Crowley in the party’s U.S. House primary in June, is no fan of Uber, if you read her statements on social media.
She frequently criticized the ride-hailing company for what she sees as underpaying its drivers, decrying their pay as “exploitation” if they don’t get at least $15 an hour, the so-called living wage.
She directly blamed the company for the suicide death of Doug Schifter, a driver in his 60s, who killed himself with a shotgun amid financial difficulties caused by flooding the streets of New York with alternative and cheaper options of taxis, as detailed in a lengthy Facebook post.
“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,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.
That was in March, months before the New York socialist, who recently lamented the closing down of a coffee shop over minimum wage hikes that she supports, became the new face of the progressive Democratic Party.
But between April and late June, the Ocasio-Cortez campaign recorded spending nearly $4,000 on Uber for what appears to be 160 rides by its staff, Federal Election Commission (FEC) records reveal.
The payments to California-based Uber ranged from just 59 cents to $82.26 and were filed under “car service.” There’s no data yet for the months of July and August.
Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign does use a New York-based company for travel, but it's not the traditional yellow cabs that receive the money.
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 between 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.
The Ocasio-Cortez campaign didn’t immediately respond to Fox News’ questions about why the campaign doesn’t use traditional yellow cabs in New York or California, and whether it will stop using ride-hailing applications such as Uber or Juno.