The vast majority of New York City’s elected officials regularly meet with executives from the big banks for the simple reason that these firms are the Big Apple’s largest private-sector employers, providing jobs to hundreds of thousands of local residents, from bank tellers to investment bankers who contribute billions of dollars to the local economy.
There is, however, one prominent local politician who has flouted this common-sense approach to governing, and she goes by the initials "AOC."
The FOX Business Network has learned that firebrand first-term liberal Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents a swath of the city in the U.S. House of Representatives, hasn't met with bank executives despite overtures made to her since she took office in January.
Of course, Ocasio-Cortez isn't the only politician to have an adversarial relationship with the financial sector, particularly following the 2008 financial collapse that led to the Great Recession and economic hardship that followed. Many progressive politicians, including those from New York City like its mayor, Bill de Blasio, have often been at odds with the banks and their CEOs over issues such as tax policy.
But what makes Ocasio-Cortez different is that while officials like de Blasio have maintained frosty relationship with the bank chiefs, she has chosen to have no relationship with them at all, even as bank officials have reached out to discuss issues with her, people with knowledge of the matter tell FOX Business. AOC is said to be possibly the only local elected official of any prominence who continues to refuse meetings with the banks, people with knowledge of the matter say.
One reason the big banks are yearning for dialogue with Ocasio-Cortez is the rock-star status she has achieved in just a few short months since her upset victory over long-time Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley in a district that includes parts of Queens and the Bronx. Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old former bartender and economics graduate from Boston University, has since gained notoriety and fame for espousing far-left views, particularly on the environment and economic issues championed by the party’s progressive base.
Her opposition to corporate tax breaks the city and state offered Amazon forced the online retailer to recently cancel plans for a new headquarters in Queens. Meanwhile, she sits on the powerful House Financial Services Committee, which provides oversight on the big banks and Wall Street firms, making her a possible irritant to the CEOs who regularly appear before the committee. During a committee hearing last week, she needled both Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, and Mike Corbat, the CEO of Citigroup, over the financial collapse.
Sources at both banks say neither Dimon nor Corbat has met with AOC despite JPMorgan and Citigroup being the city’s top two private sector employers, and officials at both firms are said to want to meet with Ocasio-Cortez to establish some type of relationship. A spokesman for Citigroup declined comment as did a spokesman for JPMorgan. Press officials at Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley would not deny that they haven’t met with AOC.
A spokeswoman for Ocasio-Cortez didn’t respond to emails or telephone calls for comment.
“AOC is running a social movement against big money and the banks,” said Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf. “She got away with chasing Amazon out of New York, and she isn’t afraid of JPMorgan and Citigroup, no matter how many people they employ in her district.”
The New York City Partnership, the business community’s major lobby group in the city, has been made aware of the bank-AOC friction, and has been monitoring the situation, according to people with knowledge of the matter. An official at the partnership said at least one major bank CEO has asked the partnership to facilitate a meeting with Ocasio-Cortez, which has yet to materialize.
“The banks are the city’s biggest employers and it’s just idiotic that she won’t meet with us,” said a senior banking executive who spoke on the condition of anonymity.