Ocasio-Cortez Staffer Disses Upper West Side-Bred ‘Careerists’…But No Neighborhood Gave More to Her Campaign

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posed for pictures at a forum on the UWS last year. Photo by Michael McDowell.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has upended Washington D.C., criticizing Democrats and Republicans alike.

A few days ago, one of her staffers took direct aim at the Upper West Side in an interview with the Washington Post. Legislative assistant Dan Riffle, a former pot activist, said that congressional offices are filled with “careerists” more excited about becoming lobbyists than about changing the world.

“I remember getting to the Hill thinking, ‘The staffers here are going to mostly be activists and idealists.’ Then I got here, and I found out that’s not true at all. These are careerists. These are people who grew up on the Upper West Side and went to Ivy League schools.”

I don’t mean to paint too broad a brush. But these are people who don’t think big and aren’t here to change the world. They’re here because it’s a good, safe, stable job, and this is a good platform to get to K Street. Which is what the vast majority of Democratic Hill staffers do.”

And frankly, there’s plenty of evidence he’s right about D.C. But man, did he have to torch the entire neighborhood to make that point?!

Because no neighborhood in the entire country was more generous to his boss’ campaign, according to data from opensecrets.org. The 10024 zip code gave Ocasio-Cortez $23,166 in the last election cycle, the most of any zip code in the country. The 10025 zip code gave the third-most, at $17,362. The 10023 zip was in eighth place, at $10,397.

And the Upper West Side isn’t even a part of her congressional district!

Read what Ocasio-Cortez said when she came to a forum on the UWS last year.

ABSURDITY | 72 comments | permalink
    1. Lord Of The Slice says:

      She’s so friggin awesome!!!

      WE LOVE YOU AOC!!!

      I love how much she triggers the Conservatives, the MAGAts don’t know what to do or say to her!!! TRIGGERED!!!

      • UWSHebrew says:

        Your comments could not be more perfect in what kind of supporters AOC has. We are not triggered by her. We love her. The more she talks, the more people will vote for Trump. I want AOC on tv every day.

        • Sherman says:

          I agree with you. I’m no fan of Trump but the more the Democrats veer to the extreme radical and anti-Semitic left the more support Trump will get.

          AOC is the best thing that ever happened to Trump.

        • Lord Of The Slice says:

          “I want AOC on tv every day”

          YES!!!! WE ALL LOVE HER!!!!


    2. boopsie says:

      Oh boy…can’t WAIT for the comments on this!

    3. Rob G. says:

      The most disturbing part about this article is that the Upper West Side was actually stupid enough to support this lunatic. Her celebration of chasing away Amazon, 40,000 jobs, and $24 billion, much of which would have benefitted her own constituents, is unconscionable. She is the worst thing that is happened to NYC in a long time. Apparently we have lost sight of the difference between progressive and destructive, and now we are reaping what we sow.

      • Chris says:

        Basically, Trump is a crime boss in the Oval Office. Focus on that and leave the rest alone. I’m from the Bronx but live on the UWS, so I get both sides, but really, I only see one side and that one side is the restoration of the rule of law. Trump must go.

        • UWSHebrew says:

          Trump ain’t goin nowhere. A Bronx cheer to you!

        • Rob G. says:

          OK fine, Chris, so Trump’s gotta go. So what? Is that your only focus in life? And does that mean that you, like Ocasio-Cortez, can’t resist the President without losing your focus on other things, like the economic well-being of your family (or in her case, New York City?) Your comment does a great job in reflecting her own small-mindedness on such matters.

        • El says:

          AOC is making a racist and classist statement.How can everyone here NOT see that? She just attacked everyone wo lives UWS, attended Ivy League? The denial is unbelievable. Is she including the homeless who have a consistent box./cart at UWS?

      • StevenCinNYC says:

        Well said. She’s bad news all around, clearly doesn’t care about people who work or need a job or the tax revenue for the City. She wants to take money out of people’s pockets, money they have earned and already paid taxes on. She’s in that same la-la land of big unrealistic promises, pie in the sky, and no concern for the reality of people working and living in NYC. I heard her on the radio talking about taking money from the Amazon incentives to give people better jobs. Huh? The incentives were based on tax revenue that Amazon was going to generate. It doesn’t exist now at all. It wasn’t taking money from the City’s coffers and giving it to Amazon. It was a rebate on revenues that they had to generate. If they don’t generate it, it doesn’t exist. So stupid.

      • Bonnie Rice says:


    4. Juan says:

      Would AOC and her people please just shut up for a few months, get acclimated to DC, and then start talking? I know she is trying to shake things up but I think she is doing a better job of making enemies than friends. She has done a great job of motivating Republicans to get out and vote and now she is also trying to alienate people who should be supporting her.

      I apologize for living on the UWS. I apologize for going to an Ivy League school. Last time I looked, this was the goal – work your tail off, go to good schools, get a good job and a nice place to live, and, most importantly, don’t forget how you got there and try to bring others who are less fortunate up with you. This is the American dream. I should not be demonized for this.

      I will never sell out and vote Republican but divisive language like this almost makes me want to…

      • UWS_lifer says:

        I always like your comments, Juan.:)

        Always thoughtful and right on point.

      • Kristina says:

        I think your outrage is misplaced.

        The staffer is not condemning the Upper West Side. Rather, he describes how comfort (anywhere) can breed a certain political complacency. More radical forms of political action (and culture: think hip-hop, graffiti) tend to come from less comfortable surroundings. Wealth and stability–these admirable bourgeois ideals–can still produce incredible banality.

        • Kayson212 says:

          Let’s not forget the American Revolution was a middle-class revolution enabled by the leadership and skills of well-educated bourgeoisie to grind sausage into a country.

          All the leading-edge cultural symbolism in the world can’t transform into real change without government knowledge and experience. This doesn’t mean sacrificing principles, just taking time to listen and learn a bit.

        • Kaz says:

          It’s so confusing seeing all these people saying that AOC will lose the 2020 election for Democrats by “scaring away centrist voters” – Democrats lost in 2016 by running one of the most centrist nominees in decades! What’s your plan for 2020, then – nominate Hillary again?

          Whipping up the leftier side of the base is a good thing, and won’t cost Democrats numbers. Remember that 90% of Bernie voters in the primary ended up voting for Hillary in 2016, while only 75% of Hillary supporters ended up voting for Obama in 2008.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        Juan the Democratic party has left you. Unless you want to embrace radical socialist policies and Marxist rhetoric, you’ll have to sit out voting every election.

        • Juan says:

          I am hoping Democrats like Klobuchar and Sherrod Brown will ascend. Unfortunately, I think they might have a tough time making it through the primary.

          Many of my friends who live away from the Northeast think I am a left wing liberal crazy. Yet here in NYC I am practically a Republican. But my liberal social values (pro-choice, pro-gay rights, in favor of enabling everyone to vote, in favor of some kind of a social safety net) and my total hatred of Trump and his childish behavior will prevent me from ever going to the dark side.

          Tom Friedman’s editorial today about the different branches of the parties is interesting – I don’t agree with everything he says but he makes some good points.

      • Denise says:

        Well said.

      • Steven says:

        Good stuff Juan..
        I too living in Manhattan I expected more from AOC.. but wow what a 180 she pulled on us…and yes she’s making enemies rather quickly…

        Huge AD being posted in times square billboard of AOC (and it’s not good)..

      • ZoomZ says:

        Go ahead – give it a try.
        It don’t hurt that bad, ya know.
        After all, both are the same.
        They take your money and run.

    5. Susan Jane says:

      That’s an anti-semitic dog whistle.
      It’s less about a geographical area and the education of the inhabitants and more about something really nasty.

      • jhminnyc says:

        Please, Susan Jane, I respect, admire, love and often feel sympathy with many, many Jewish people, but not every phrase relates back to them and “is an anti-semitic dog whistle”.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        anti-semitic dog whistle?

        that has to be the dumbest remark i’ve heard in a long time.

        So are all the right wing commenters on thsi site who continually bash to “UWS liberals”, many of them Jewish, all launching “anti-semitic dog whistles”?

    6. ScooterStan says:

      Re: “The 10023 zip was in eighth place, at $10,397.”

      Thank Goodness…at least we UWSers below W.79th haven’t lost our collective minds…yet!

    7. AC says:

      At Rob and Juan, totally agree with you guys. On a side note, she’s the best thing that could have happened to the GOP.

      Trump pulls off another win in 2020!

      You read it here first in the WSR!

      • Tim says:

        AC, you’re exactly right! Another poster said conservatives are “triggered” by her. Quite the opposite! I love how she keeps digging the hole for Democrats, deeper, and deeper, and deeper. Pass the popcorn! 😀

      • Elena says:

        Ocasio- Cortez has a B.A. from
        Boston University.
        Disagree with her if you wish,
        but don’t call her “uneducated.”

        • soldier says:

          Trump graduated from Ivy league school. AOC is still an ignorant, overconfident and divisive person, degree or no degree.

      • Please Not Again says:

        Trump cannot win the 2020 election, but Democrats can lose it. The goal that’s first and foremost for Dems (and for Republicans who still cherish our democracy) must be not to blow the election. As much as I agree with AOC’s instincts (though not with all her policies) and as much as she brings electrifying spirit to the political debate, I’m concerned that she terrifies too many centrist voters and gives away too many talking points to the Trump camp. It will endanger us all if becoming captivated by AOC causes the anti-Trump camp to take its eye off the ball.

      • Steven says:

        Hey I’m a registered Democrat…and I do admit if it came down to Bernie and DT …I would keep him in for a second term.. proof of just how disgusted I am with my party!

    8. paulcons says:

      And now it’s 40,000 jobs/ YEAH RIGHT? Tell me, assume it’s actually 25,000 like they said… with average 150k salary… so exactly what kinds of jobs? That pay that kind of money? AND let’s not forget, yes many were criticizing that it was a back room deal with zero involvement with ANYONE from the neighborhood and did they FORCE amazon to back out of the deal? Or did they pull a temper tantrum (oh my, criticize me and I’m taking my marbles back)” RATHER than, you know, actually engage with local residents? Another “my way or the highway” corporate move… leaving behind those that got conned desperately fighting?

    9. AOC not for me says:

      I’m a democrat but she and her staffers need to be careful. Pompous and uninformed, and she’s excluding the left/center. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. And don’t celebrate driving business out of NYC. Those politicians didn’t factor in all the peripheral business that Amazon would’ve helped.

    10. kcares says:

      Ms. AOC needs to get control of her staff. I am glad she is shaking things up, but she needs to rein in her staffers and make sure they are VERY careful with their comments to press. They are not her and they need to be sure their comments boost her position, not bring her down. Now many other congressional staffers will feel slighted and may not be as willing to work with her to accomplish her agenda. The comment did nothing for except shame that staffer and make her look inexperienced with untrained staff. This is a rookie mistake, and I hope Ms. AOC learns from this. She has a lot of good to do in Washington!

    11. Rodger Lodger says:

      There’s a lot more to come, Folks!

    12. Stef Lev says:

      The UWS has had a long history of supporting liberal candidates that don’t support us. Maybe it’s time we learn to be more moderate in who we support. It’s taken me 40 years of voting here to realize we’re supporting candidates who repel and not embrace us!

    13. EricUWSNYC says:

      AOC, Sanders and Warren are the reason I left the Democratic Party, and became an Independent. I’d like to think that all three are a flash in the pan amidst a transitional political landscape, but Bernie raising $6mm in 24 hours makes me think these lunatics are here to stay.

    14. Kathleen says:

      Thank you, Kristina, for your thoughtful and honest response.

    15. Kathleen says:

      And I’m disappointed with UWSR for jumping on the “how divisive can we be” bandwagon. Definitely caters to some of your most prominent commenters, though, if that’s your goal.

    16. Regina says:

      Just tweeter Ocasio Cortez this article, some of our “Ivy League” money went to her campaign…. hopefully she’ll have an answer.

    17. Please Do Better says:

      What a dishonest post.

      I have serious reservations about AOC, but WSR just totally played its hand, and shot its credibility.

      1) AOC did not make the comment, and yet her photo is prominently displayed.

      2) Riffle (who was NOT pictured) did not make the comment about the UWS, or about UWSers, but rather about the type of staffer that HE encounters in congressional offices. He may be correct.

      In no way does this reasonably read as him “torching” the entire UWS.

      We need honest reporting. Please do better.

    18. Adam says:

      If AOC gets her way, the ‘woke’ people of the UWS will be giving much, much more of their money to the government. Involuntarily, of course.

    19. nycityny says:

      Why are Democratic commentators so afraid? Republicans like Lindsey Graham shoot their mouths off all the time about crazy stuff and they win elections. Now we have a Democrat who is willing so stir the pot and say unpopular things and the Dems all think this will lead to 2020 losses. Maybe it’s time the Dems learn from the Repubs as to what works and let AOC do her thing.

      • Erica says:

        This ☝🏻every comment here has proved his point. People need to pull their collective snooty noses out of your bums. She is the future, thank goodness, not old white men.

    20. Isabella says:

      Being open-minded is where it’s at, but being undisciplined is not. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, AOC. Keep up the good work, but mind your manners with your supporters.

    21. soldier says:

      He should just call us “the globalists” with a lot of Benjamins and be done with it. Freudian slips are a bitch. This ignorant, deranged style of “politics” is scary.

    22. Evan Bando says:

      AOC is just another self-absorbed egoist who throws hand grenades at the opposition with her unschooled, unedited, unanalyzed proclamations that will alienate as many Democrats as Republicans to say nothing of the Independents. She has a right to say what she wants but I think she overestimates the momentousness of her election victory. She needs to think about how she can advance progressivism, not how to hammer and sickle society into an unattainable submission.

    23. David Weissman says:

      Grow up. Stop pretending. Grow up.

    24. Watto says:

      She needs to shut up and listen and learn from a pro … her leader, Nancy Pelosi. The squeaky wheel doesn’t always get the oil-sometimes people just throw it away and get something else. And using acronyms for identification should be saved for those who earned the right … RBG for example!

    25. Rafael says:

      Like Bernie, AOC caught fire by shining a light on vast inequality in America, supported by cozy risk averse politicians.
      Last night Bernie pointed out that THREE billionaires have more wealth than the bottom half of the entire country. 200 million Americans shouldn’t be barely getting by while THREE oligarchs amass ever greater – barely taxed – fortunes.

    26. JerryV says:

      AOC is a gift that will keep on giving to the Trump people. They will focus on her as the face of the Democratic Party. The idea is to bring in the centrist-leaning people who voted for Trump in the last election. You cannot accomplish this with a “bomb-thrower” who has a far left position and will not compromise. I happen to like Bernie and Warren but centrists will not vote for them; they will, however, make great cabinet secretaries. Let’s see what happens during the primaries coming up. Listen to everyone before making up your mind. And I don’t care who wins in NY or California. They will vote Democratic in any event. Watch the States in the Mid-West that went for Trump in the last election. Therein lies the difference between 4 more years of Trump and the loss of American Democracy vs. a Democratic administration that can begin to repair the destruction that Trump et al has brought us.

    27. UWS citizen says:

      AOC= why I vote Republican now.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        UWS Citizen said:

        “AOC= why I vote Republican now.”

        Does anyone believe that? obviously you were voting Republican for along time before this.

    28. karen says:

      AOC doesn’t seem to be interested in doing her job which is to represent her constituents. Maybe she should quit and find another job that suits her ambition and ego better. Or someone truly from that neighborhood should try to replace her. She is bad for the whole city, and is bad for the Democratic party too.

    29. ZoomZ says:

      I hear that she single handed stopped blond jokes from being popular.

    30. Serge Lang says:

      Great! Now she’s trashing Jerry Nadler’s district as well as the district where her fellow Congresswoman worked so hard to bring in Amazon!

      What’s next?

      Will she urge that Columbia University—just another multi-billion dollar employer of tens of thousands of Upper West Siders and other New Yorkers —move out? After all, their tax breaks are far higher and have cost tens of billions of dollars more than Amazons 10 cents on the dollar (they were to get, in the future—about a 10% break on annual property taxes each year for a number of years).

      I’m afraid that Ocasio-Cortez suburbanite is showing: up near the Connecticut border, in Yorktown Heights—the bedroom community where she grew up—there ARE no large employers. Those commutera! Their spawn is so thoughtlessly oblivious to the real needs of city dwellers and those of nearby “inner suburbs” where people work.

    31. Michael palmer says:

      What’s wrong with careerist and Ivy League schools.?? Barak & Michelle Obama both went to Ivy League schools.. Sometimes I think she just talks to hear herself talk. By the way, the Upper Westside is very Liberal and votes mostly Democrat.

    32. SHG says:

      Well, Alexandria, that’s a pretty narrow minded and dismissive take on all of us who live UWS. I am 72 years old and I have been fighting for social justice since the 60’s and marched for gun safety in the UWS last year. Please don’t succumb to the same ignorant divisive rhetoric that so many mainstream politicians do. I hope to be able to continue to support you.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        i hope you noticed that AOC had no take AT ALL on the UWS. Her staffer said something stupid, not AOC. Staffers should be seen and not heard, but do you really want to hold every elected official to everything a staffer says?

    33. Joyce Miller says:

      This quote says more about Riffle’s prejudices than it does about reality. Most Congressional staff (including the staff of the Member who represents the Upper West Side and who seem to be the subject of the comment) do not come from the Upper West Side (though West Siders are highly regarded, not discriminated against because of their origins and are welcome, as are people from the Bronx, Bklyn, Queens, SI and even from across the Hudson – the office is very broad-minded). Contrary to Riffle’s impression,they did not all attend Ivy League schools. Most staff in that Upper West Side Member’s office have worked there for years, remain there by choice because they are still enthusiastic about developing and passing much needed progressive legislation, as well as doing the research necessary for effective, productive public hearings and fact-findings. Developing sharp, pointed questions aimed at eliciting information from reluctant witnesses and uncovering the truth, do not come about by accident. It requires dedicated, creative staff, willing to think outside the box and question existing paradigms. Staffers like those described by Mr. Riffle would not last long. Perhaps he wandered into a Republican office

    34. Elder of Zion says:

      And she helped blow the Amazon deal and has no economic or business acumen. She’s personable, charismatic and may even be a great political mind someday but now she’s just hype for an entertainment and media obsessed public.

    35. UWS Craig says:

      Whatever you think of AOC personally, it is clear that her Green New Deal is the only viable route to saving our planet from the destruction caused by carbon dioxide. We are in the midst of a climate crisis and it is caused by people. It is up to the people to stop it. Fortunately, we finally have a leader willing to tell TRUTH to POWER.

    36. Bruce E. Bernstein says:

      the commenters who spew out hate, above, towards AOC should be ashamed of themselves. she said NOTHING about the UWS. it was a stupid staffer.

      it was dumb and counterproductive by the staffer, but staffers have said a lot stupider things. See Steve Bannon, who worked for Trump.

      what is it with the venom towards AOC? calm yourselves down. What has she done that gets to you so much?

      She had put radical action on climate change front and center: very much needed. you should be ranting about the deniers who have stopped action, not AOC. she was heroic on this issue.

      She has raised the issue of very high marginal tax rates on 10 million plus: polls show most Americans agree with her. I’m one of them. Nobel prize winning economist Joe Stiglitz is another.

      on Amazon, i think you should be looking at how the Governor and Mayor misled the public. have you examined the tax incentives? Are you aware that, for the first ten years, very very high percentages of the state and local income tax of the extra employees with be rebated to Amazon? that in some years, it is over 100%? that the so-called 9:1 “ROI” is mostly based on probably jacked up employment numbers for years 2030-2044, after the incentives run out?

      i’ve looked at the numbers; apparently many of you, and many in the media, haven’t. AOC said some wrong things on this deal in describing it, or perhaps used unclear language. But she is not the one who stopped the deal. and what she said was far less egregious than media figures who went on and on about 9:1 ROI.

      Whether you agree with her or not, your anger is misplaced.

      • Westsidegirl says:

        No one seems angry, AOC is just stupid and going to hand Trump his 2nd term.

        • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

          “stupid” is the furthest thing from what she is.

          on the Amazon deal, the media seems to have taken Cuomo’s both inflated and false claims at face value. there was no 9:1 ROI. the terms of the deal were outrageous.

          But i guess only the “stupid” people actually looked at the terms.

    37. AK says:

      i live in 10024 and I’m appalled. She will be the demise of the democratic party.