AOC Spars With Fox Business Host Over Report That Pro-Trump Group Is Handing Out Cash to Black Voters

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sparred with Fox Business host Charles Payne after the financial analyst said she'd made "damning claims" that President Donald Trump's campaign had been "paying" black Americans at rallies.

Payne was referencing a remark made by Ocasio-Cortez on Instagram following Trump's State of the Union address on Tuesday evening. "Donald Trump has started giving out cash to black Americans at his rallies," the progressive Democrat from New York told her followers. "He is being very deliberate in trying to look like he's being great for the black community."

Posting about the comment ahead of his Wednesday afternoon show, Payne tweeted: "Whoa! @AOC making damning claims that the Trump campaign is paying Black Americans at his campaign rally. Trump must have struck a nerve during SOTU last night."

Ocasio-Cortez quickly responded, tweeting out a January 29 article from Politico that first reported Trump allies were giving out cash to black voters. "I'm not 'making claims' that Trump campaign allies are holding events in Black communities to hand out envelopes of cash. I'm quoting the actual reporting," she wrote, sharing a screenshot of the article, titled "Trump allies are handing out cash to black voters."

I’m not “making claims” that Trump campaign allies are holding events in Black communities to hand out envelopes of cash.

I’m quoting the actual reporting ⬇️

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 5, 2020

"Allies of Donald Trump have begun holding events in black communities where organizers lavish praise on the president as they hand out tens of thousands of dollars to lucky attendees," the opening paragraph of the Politico story reads. While the organization involved, the Urban Revitalization Coalition, said its actions are not suspect, legal experts have questioned that claim.

"While those responsible for this shadowy behavior will claim that it is legally above board, the fact of the matter is that it's insulting and wrong," Ocasio-Cortez added in a second tweet. "They may not be legally registered as 'campaign events' or rallies, but it should be clear to all what is going on."

Later on his show, Payne discussed the congresswoman's criticism, arguing that the event where the cash was handed out by Trump allies was not officially part of the president's campaign.

"She's referring to an event that I think was done in Cleveland. It was an event to help promote opportunity zones. It was not the Trump campaign," he insisted.

For her part, Ocasio-Cortez anticipated the pushback, tweeting out ahead of Payne's show that the "GOP will hop on me over the legal definition of a rally to distract from this garbage. They're so predictable."

Darrell Scott, CEO of the Urban Revitalization Coalition, has become one of the president's closest and most loyal black supporters, according to Politico. He is regularly at the White House and has helped with Trump's landmark criminal justice reform, as well as the administration's opportunity zone initiative, which is intended to give tax incentives to people who invest in specific urban communities.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at a Capitol Hill news conference introducing the "People’s Housing Platform" on January 29. Mario Tama/Getty

A video from the group's event, shared in a report by NowThis News, shows people onstage praising Trump and others running forward to claim $300 in cash. "Tens of thousands of dollars were given away," according to NowThis.

"Four more years for President Trump! Yay!" a woman at the event cheers in the video while waving an envelope above her head.

Trump remains very unpopular among the black American community. Back in October, a Quinnipiac University survey found that 82 percent of black voters wanted the president impeached and removed from office. A January survey by The Washington Post/Ipsos found that 79 percent of black voters said it was personally important to them that Trump not win a second term.