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Joe Crowley had dirt on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during contentious primary campaign — but was afraid to use it, new book claims


Crowley was Nancy Pelosi's top lieutenant

William B. Plowman/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images

Former Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) was well positioned to succeed now-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as leader of Democrats in the House. Then along came Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who shocked the political world when she defeated him during last summer's New York primary.

But according to a new book, Crowley had the political ammunition to wage war against Ocasio-Cortez, which reportedly could have prevented her from defeating him and eventually winning election to Congress.

What are the details?

According to the new book, "The Hill They Die On," written by Politico reporters Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer, Crowley's campaign had dirt on Ocasio-Cortez, yet chose not to deploy the attacks because he did not want to appear weak.

"Crowley had plenty of fodder he could've used against Ocasio-Cortez, but his top New York campaign operatives decided to take the punches and not hit back," the book claims, according to the New York Post.

"It wasn't just that Crowley didn't want to go dirty; he thought it would be a sign of weakness in D.C. if he was seen in a tight race against Ocasio-Cortez. He was supposed to be the next Democratic leader, not someone who had to fight for re-election," the book continues.

As history goes, Ocasio-Cortez stunned the Democratic political establishment when she ousted Crowley last June, resulting in an almost guaranteed seat in Congress. She easily defeated Republican opponent Anthony Pappas in November with 78 percent of the vote.

At 29 years old, Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

What dirt did Crowley's campaign have?

According to the Post, Crowley's campaign knew Ocasio-Cortez was engaged in "questionable financing practices," which have since become a source of contention for the young lawmaker.

Last month, the conservative National Legal and Policy Center filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission alleging Ocasio-Cortez's campaign skirted campaign finance laws by funneling money from two political action committees into a shell company.

Although Ocasio-Cortez and her campaign have denied wrongdoing, she and her chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, were quietly removed from the board of one of those PACs — Justice Democrats PAC — last month after Ocasio-Cortez began generating scrutiny for her campaign financing practices.

Crowley also reportedly had evidence that Ocasio-Cortez was being supported by Hiram Monserrate, a disgraced New York politician who was expelled from the New York State Senate in 2010 after assaulting his then-girlfriend. He later served 21 months in prison after pleading guilty to stealing government funds for his campaigns.

Crowley's campaign tied Ocasio-Cortez to Monserrate after she appeared at his political club, East Elmhurst Corona Democrats.

During a debate between Crowley and Ocasio-Cortez last summer, Crowley questioned Ocasio-Cortez why she was seeking Monserrate's support.

"That's a lie. I have not sought his support," Ocasio-Cortez said at the time.

Despite her denials, Crowley's campaign worked tirelessly to connect Ocasio-Cortez with Monserrate, realizing the bad optics could sink Ocasio-Cortez's fledgling campaign.

"It is truly shocking that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez spoke at Hiram Monserrate's political club while campaigning and was selected to be honored by him at a political fundraiser. That she continues to defend her decision to appear alongside a man who physically assaulted his partner shows a profound lack of judgment," Lauren French, a spokeswoman for Crowley's campaign, said last summer.

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