Ocasio-Cortez defends decision not to pay dues to House Democratic campaign arm

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOvernight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims Trump blasts Schumer over 'incorrect sound bites' on coronavirus Trump warns against 'partisan investigations' after Pelosi establishes select committee on virus response MORE (D-N.Y.) on Friday defended her decision not to pay dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), saying she would instead seek to funnel money directly to Democrats in tough races.

Asked by The Hill if she intended to pay dues to the House Democratic campaign arm this cycle, Ocasio-Cortez replied, "I don't think so."

Ocasio-Cortez, whose unexpected win in a 2018 primary against longtime incumbent Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) propelled her to political stardom in progressive circles, has emerged as one of the Democratic Party’s most prolific fundraisers in the House.

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In the third quarter of 2019, she raised more money than any other House Democrat, including Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump says he opposes mail-in voting for November On The Money: Economy sheds 701K jobs in March | Why unemployment checks could take weeks | Confusion surrounds 9B in small-business loans The bipartisan neutering of the Congressional Budget Office MORE (D-Calif.). Her most recent federal filing shows that she raked in more than $1.4 million between July 1 and Sept. 30.

Ocasio-Cortez has spoken critically of the DCCC in the past, particularly after it began sidelining vendors who work with candidates seeking to challenge incumbent Democrats in primaries.

She said that instead of paying the DCCC dues — about $250,000 for the 2019-2020 election cycle — she would seek to give directly to Democratic candidates.

"We are trying to raise the equivalent of my dues directly to other members," Ocasio-Cortez told The Hill. She said the money she has raised has so far gone to backing House Democrats, as well as nonincumbent candidates.

A spokesperson for the DCCC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Fox News reported Friday that Ocasio-Cortez’s plan to withhold dues had rankled some congressional Democrats who worried the move could hurt the party’s efforts to keep control of the House.

“Sometimes the question comes: 'Do you want to be in a majority or do you want to be in the minority?' ” Rep. Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksBiden rolls out over a dozen congressional endorsements after latest primary wins Democrats balk at Trump's payroll tax cut proposal The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Facebook — Washington, Wall Street on edge about coronavirus MORE (D-N.Y.) told Fox News. “And do you want to be part of a team?"

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who is facing a primary challenge from a progressive Democrat backed by Ocasio-Cortez, expressed frustration over what he described as efforts to “purify” the Democratic Caucus by ousting members who aren't part of the party’s progressive wing.

“To have people try to purify the caucus because they don't agree with them — 100 percent, I certainly don't agree with that,” he told Fox News. “Hopefully, we will start to get away from this circular firing squad.”

Despite Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to not pay dues, the DCCC isn’t hurting for money. Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosDemocrats ask Trump for evidence that medical supplies are available Annual Congressional Dinner pushed back to June amid coronavirus concerns Internal Democratic research shows Hispanics energized to vote in November MORE (D-Ill.), chairwoman of the DCCC, announced Thursday that the group had raised $14.4 million in December, its best fundraising month in 2019.

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Ocasio-Cortez told Fox News that she still backed some of her colleagues in their reelection bids, but noted that she was also willing to break with certain members of her party.

“I’m happy to support some incumbents, but it’s not just a blanket rule,” she said.

Cristina Marcos contributed.