Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Cannot Afford to Move to Washington

Per a New York Times interview, New York’s new Representative will not be able to afford an apartment in Washington, DC until she starts drawing a Congressional salary. Per tweets and other sources of information, she may well have found a workaround of some sort, but this gets me to thinking: what kind of an income would someone like Ocasio-Cortez be allowed to earn at this point? The websites I’ve seen indicate that congresscritters are only allowed to earn an amount equal to 15% of their government salary from sources like speaking fees. Since Ocasio-Cortez’s salary will be around $170,000, could a few sympathetic NGOs have her in to speak a few times for $20,000 compensation that she could use to get a DC apartment, or would that be considered an ethics violation?

Despite attempts earlier this year to bring the practice under fire, there’s an option available to her. It doesn’t involve raising any money. She’s got an office.

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She doesn’t get the office until Jan. 3, though. And there are organizational meetings, orientations and other “onboarding” activities in DC between next week and Xmas.

It is a problem not just for her but for other non-wealthy elected officials. It is a bit of a conundrum, you are already under all the restrictions of what you can’t accept, yet you are not getting paid until the end of January, and remember, you are simultaneously maintaining a regular place at the home state.

Campaign funds may not pay for the candidate’s housing/regular living expenses. They probably can use some of it for hotel and trains for the days when there’s actual orientation meetings as long as she then immediately goes back to Queens, but what happens come January?

A campaign BTW may pay the candidate a “salary” but that may not exceed her earned income for the prior year or the salary of the sought office, whichever is LESSER, and it must start doing so before the primary.

Best shot she’s got ISTM is either (a) take a short-term at a longer commuting distance in MD or VA until some time in 2019 or (b) for some fellow Member to let her have their guest room until then.

Its an icky problem, since she can hardly accept any sort of assistance, but does she really have to be there before she actually punches the timeclock?

I’m sure she could get a loan to cover her living expenses seeing as though she has a massive salary coming her way soon (yes, call me a pauper, but $174k is a massive salary).

We could have a bake sale. But that might expose us to public scrutiny, and endanger our traditional standing as a quiet but powerful influence on public opinion. You know, like a greasy eminence.

isn’t that why some of the bachelor senators used to get together and 5 or 6 should share a town house ?

I remember reading a funny article where one prominent senator retired and the others he lived with had to move and one of the neighbors joked they’d been there so long that the place went from a frat house atmosphere to that of a nursing home…

Air BnB?

I was thinking the same thing - surely she can get a bank to loan her enough money for 2 months in D.C. on the strength of the income she’ll start getting in January.

Hey gang, let’s put on a show!

I’m not a fan of AOC but I’m thrilled that someone poor got elected to Congress. No, she should not move to DC. None of them should. They should live in their home districts. Biden commuted for decades, so can she.

That was my inclination as well, upon reflection. Even a credit card with a healthy limit would enable her to limp along until her first paycheck.

Are you under the impression that this would be free? :dubious:

How the hell would that work? Are you suggesting that she take the train from NYC to DC, and back, every day in session? That sounds absolutely nuts.

Even Reps Gabbard and Case?

According to that article posted by DinoR, congress is only in session 83 days a year. A NYC to DC train is 3 hours.

Its a doable commute, but not a pleasant one.

Penn to Union, sure… but she doesn’t live at Penn Station, and she doesn’t work at Union Station. More like 4 or even 5 hours each way. That’s not really even close to feasible.

Can she not claim expenses for these?

From who? She’s not a federal employee until January 3rd.

In January she does have an office. She can break her plan it into multiple pieces even without a loan:

  1. Live at home in NY and travel to DC using campaign funds for required transition activities. (Cite from FEC with a section on “Use of campaign funds by newly-elected Members” for those that really want to dig.)
  2. Live in her office until she gets paid and secures other lodging.
  3. Move.