New York Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — colloquially known as “AOC” for short — is a frequent target of conservative pundits, politicians, and more, due to her holding “democratic socialist” ideas that drive some people on the right up the wall.
So it’s not all-too surprising to see that she’s also targeted by unnamed critics, mainly in the form of internet memes on social media sites. Oftentimes, these memes mislead or outright lie about what she’s said or what she stands for, in an effort to make conservative users online angry enough to share them without actually knowing they’re false.
A recent spate of memes about Ocasio-Cortez purports that she is worth a lot of money. But are they true? Like many other posts online about her, these memes deserve deeper scrutiny…
The claim: AOC is worth more than $1 million
These internet posts have recently suggested that Ocasio-Cortez, who was first elected to her House seat in 2018, has profited from being in Congress. Two memes help to demonstrate how the argument goes.
“AOC in a two-year period has become a multi-millionaire,” one of these memes purports.
A second popular post goes deeper, demanding to see records to know just how the New York congresswoman got her wealth.
“AOC, who was broke when elected to Congress, is now a millionaire. I demand to see her tax returns!” that meme reads.
The post pokes fun at liberals’ demands over the past five years to see former President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
But it misses the mark for two reasons: first, members of Congress traditionally have not made their tax returns known to constituents, whereas for presidents, it’s been widely regarded as a necessary thing to do before they run for office, since at least the 1970s.
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And second, Trump promised to share his tax returns during the 2016 campaign, then falsely suggested he couldn’t do so since he was being audited by the IRS (the agency later clarified that Trump was able to share his taxes, even if he was being audited).
So where does this leave us with AOC? Shouldn’t she share how she became a millionaire in such a short time?
The argument might make sense — if it were true.
Ocasio-Cortez’s actual finances
Every candidate who runs for Congress has to, by law, fill out a Financial Disclosure Report to publicly show how much income, assets, and liabilities (debts) they have. Ocasio-Cortez is no different, and last year, she filled out such a form.
I bet you a million dollars from Bernie’s bank account that AOC becomes a millionaire before the end of her second term in Congress. pic.twitter.com/fLLrABBVKL
— Dr. Gina – RAV (@RealAmVoice) (@RealDrGina) February 11, 2020
It does not show her as being a millionaire. Far from it, in fact.
Disclosure reports do not require specific amounts of income to be mentioned, but rather afford candidates the ability to write out the range of assets and debts they have. While it’s possible that the New York Democrat has somehow received a vast amount of income since that time, based on what Ocasio-Cortez put in her report last fall it’s highly unlikely that she is a millionaire now.
The maximum amount that Ocasio-Cortez listed that she had in her banking accounts was $15,000. She also listed a brokerage account, but that, at most, had just $1,000. And her 401K retirement plan, at most, also had $15,000 in it.
That makes Ocasio-Cortez’s absolute possible maximum of assets she has at $31,000. At the lowest possible minimum, she may only have assets of just a little over $2,000.
And that’s not even counting her liabilities. Ocasio-Cortez listed debts ranging from $15,001 to $50,000 — meaning it’s possible she has more in liabilities than she does in her net worth.
This doesn’t make AOC a millionaire — if anything, it makes her one of the poorest members of Congress currently serving.
Ocasio-Cortez earns a congressional salary of $174,000 per year. Having served two full years in Congress, she could have saved up to $348,000 before her second term started.
But her financial disclosure form from last year shows that most of that money was probably spent, possibly on housing in D.C. or other expenses necessary for members of Congress to make. It’s possible she paid off some debts, too.
Ocasio-Cortez also didn’t have a lot of assets before entering office — she didn’t have a flashy job or cushy position as a corporate executive at some big company, as many Congress members have had. Rather, since graduating from Boston University in 2011, she worked many blue-collar jobs as a waitress and bartender, and worked at a non-profit organization as well.
The memes on social media suggest that AOC is now a millionaire, or perhaps even a multi-millionaire. But the evidence of this is sorely lacking, in a laughable way, and there’s more documentation that proves she’s not the rich congresswoman these memes make her out to be.