Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib rip new Congress’ ‘corporate lobbyist group’ event with Gary Cohn

"You guys are way over your head, you don't know how the game is played," warned Trump's former chief economic adviser.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib at a campaign event in Dearborn, Michigan on July 29, 2018. (rashidatlaib/Instagram)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib at a campaign event in Dearborn, Michigan on July 29, 2018. (rashidatlaib/Instagram)

Money playing a major role in politics is obviously not a ThinkProgress exclusive.

But amid all of the corruption and conflicts of interest that make headlines, there are countless other influences of money in the political world that don’t make themselves known unless you’re on the inside.

Well Reps.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who ran as outsider candidates, are now on the inside and making it clear that it won’t be business as usual in the new Congress.

During the ongoing orientation events for newly-elected members before they’re seated on January 3, Thursday featured the Harvard Bipartisanship Forum, what was apparently billed as a bipartisan event.

Ocasio-Cortez — the youngest woman ever elected to Congress — voiced her displeasure via Twitter.

Around 15 minutes later, Tlaib — who will join Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar (D-MN) as the first Muslim congresswomen next month — noted that Gary Cohn, President Donald Trump’s former chief economic adviser, was also in attendance with a “warning” to the new arrivals in Washington, D.C.

In addition to Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), who also expressed concerns about the forum earlier in the week, the Democratic Socialist from New York later added that there were apparently additional members of the new Congress who were uncomfortable about the orientation event being “cohosted by a corporate lobbyist group.”

Goldman Sachs, the financial behemoth where Cohn was CEO before joining Trump’s administration, made a little over $4.3 million in donations during the 2018 election cycle, according to Open Secrets.


Though contributions were roughly evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, the biggest indicator was incumbents, as congressional candidates running for re-election received roughly 80 percent of Goldman Sachs’ political donations.

Ocasio-Cortez is pushing to join the House Ways and Means Committee, the “tax-writing body” that is “generally packed with the most senior members.”

The Intercept’s Ryan Grim explained the thinking behind the congresswoman-elect’s strategy.

Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to go after a spot on the Ways and Means Committee is part of a broader strategy to grow progressive power in the coming Congress. It began with Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders Mark Pocan of Wisconsin and Pramila Jayapal of Washington state extracting a major concession from Pelosi, that in exchange for CPC votes, she would give the caucus proportional representation — which amounts to 40 percent — on the most powerful committees, which includes Ways and Means.

This has been updated with additional information about opposition to the Harvard Bipartisanship Forum.