Presidential races

Former unpaid campaigner blasts Hillary: Pay your interns

A former Hillary Clinton campaign fellow is accusing the Democratic front-runner of hypocrisy for relying on unpaid interns and fellows while publicly calling to for increased wages.

Carolyn Osorio writes in a new USA Today opinion piece that she joined the campaign as a fellow after Clinton announced her bid in April, adding that she had to move to Nevada and work there for free.

“I had hoped a trailblazer would be more willing to break the mold of indentured servitude that haunts my generation,” she writes.

“Finding out that Hillary perpetuates the exploitation known as unpaid internships was like discovering that Santa wasn’t real.”

The Clinton campaign has flaunted its penny-pinching ways, letting a Washington Post journalist accompany campaign chairman John Podesta on a bus trip between New York and Washington.

But Osorio was surprised to see the “cheapness” extend to its staff.

“For a woman I supported to demand this of me felt repulsive. Forget arguments about raising the minimum wage,” she writes.

“I can’t even get a wage. What exactly are Hillary Clinton’s priorities and how do I change them?”

As Osorio admits, “unpaid work is common in campaigns.”

Interns are essential to help campaigns blanket the country with door-knockers, canvassers and more, opportunities that could help those interns secure a future full-time job. Political organizations and campaigns regularly call for unpaid interns — both the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee currently have job listings open for those positions.

A report in The Guardian from earlier in June says that the Clinton campaign has a “hiring freeze” for paid organizing positions and notes the campaign’s use of unpaid “organizing fellows” in Iowa. 

In response to a request for comment from The Hill, her campaign forwarded a statement from a Clinton aide who defended its fellowship and volunteer policy.

“We’re thrilled to welcome volunteers for the summer, just like other campaigns in both parties have done in the past. Many successful fellows from a similar program during the Obama campaign now work with us on this campaign and we’re sure the same will be true with many from this group,” the unidentified aide said.

“The latest evidence of the intense grassroots interest in Hillary Clinton’s campaign comes from the tremendous interest in our fellows program,” the aide added.

Clinton has regularly touted policies like raising the minimum wage and providing tax credits to businesses that give apprenticeships and other “bonuses” for giving them to young adults.

Osorio calls on Clinton to “question your role in this exploitative system” but reaffirms her support for Clinton as the best chance to buck the cycle.

“It might make me sound like a Stockholm syndrome victim, but after all of this, Hillary is still the best chance we have. If there is to be a better world for my future children, she’s the only hope,” she writes.

“Hillary will get my free vote even if she will never have my free help.”

— This report was updated at 1:33 p.m.

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