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Ocasio-Cortez responds to billboard blaming her for Amazon HQ2 cancel



New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lashed out at a billboard in Times Square that blamed her for the termination of a deal between the city of New York and Amazon that would have parked its second headquarters, known as HQ2, in Queens.

Amazon backed out of the deal to develop HQ2 last Thursday. The gist of the plan was that Amazon would get $3 billion in tax credits, which it would receive over ten years, and in return create 25,000 jobs in a new headquarters.

Ocasio-Cortez’s response came after Fox News host Laura Ingraham tweeted a photo of the billboard paid for by the Job Creators Network (JCN), a conservative business group that advocates for lower taxes and fewer business regulations, according to Axios.

Its website also calls itself the protector of “the 85 million people who depend on the success of small businesses.”

The Times Square billboard reads: “25,000 Lost NYC Jobs. $4 Billion in Lost Wages. $12 Billion in Lost Economic Activity for NY. Thanks For Nothing, AOC,” referring to the congresswoman’s initials.

Read more: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says that $3 billion in tax credits should be given to the public, not Amazon — and a new poll shows that nearly half of Americans agree

It also has the hashtag “#SocialismTakesCapitalismCreates” at the bottom.

The billboard went up by Manhattan’s 42nd Street and 8th Avenue on Wednesday and will be displayed for a week, the JCN said in a statement.

Ocasio-Cortez responded to the statement in a series of early Thursday morning tweets alleging that the ad was sponsored by “billionaire-funded groups” advocating “dark money & anti-worker policies” that she was fighting against.

She said: “Few things effectively communicate the power we’ve built in fighting dark money & anti-worker policies like billionaire-funded groups blowing tons of cash on wack billboards (this one is funded by the Mercers).”

“(PS fact that it’s in Times Sq tells you this isn’t for/by NYers.)” she added jokingly.

Read more: Bernie Sanders congratulates New York for ‘standing up’ to Amazon after tech giant cancels plan for new headquarters in Queens

A protest against Amazon’s plans to build a second headquarters in Queens, New York.
Getty/Andrew Lichtenstein

The Mercers are a billionaire family, headed by hedge funder Robert Mercer. He has donated to President Donald Trump and other conservative organizations, like Breitbart, in the past.

His daughters Jennifer and Rebekah have been linked to Cambridge Analytica, the British firm found two years ago to have hoovered up data from 50 million Facebook profiles for political gain.

Ocasio-Cortez added a screenshot of the JCN’s Wikipedia page, which said the group was founded by billionaire Trump donor Bernard Marcus and funded by conservative groups including the Mercer family.

While Ocasio-Cortez’s screenshot is correct that Marcus founded the JCN, the group’s funding is murkier.

In a 2017 Forbes piece, titled “Who Funds This New Small Business-Group? Hint: Mostly Not Small Businesses,” writer Robb Mandelbaum found from 2015 financial data that of the $4.6 million raised, $1 million came from the Marcus Foundation.

The Mercer Family Foundation, run by Rebekah Mercer, gave the JCN $100,000 in 2013 and 2014 when the group was called the Job Creators Alliance, Forbes added.

Breitbart, which the Mercer family has funded since at least 2011, has also regularly promoted the JCN’s work in its articles and online ads over the past few years, Media Matters reported in 2017.

It is not clear whether the Mercer family still funds the JCN.

Amazon cited resistance among local politicians and residents for its cancelation.

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