Congress

Fresno city officials keep Ocasio-Cortez baseball video controversy alive

Minor league baseball team showed video on Memorial Day equating New York Democrat to Fidel Castro, Kim Jong-Un

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., through no fault of her own, has been mired in a controversy in Fresno, California, surrounding a video played by a minor league baseball team comparing her to Fidel Castro and Kim Jong Un. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The controversy involving a video that a California minor league baseball team played at its Memorial Day game equating Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with despots Fidel Castro and Kim Jong Un just won’t fade, through no fault of the congresswoman.

Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld denounced two of his Democratic colleagues for spending taxpayer money on a trip to Washington, D.C., where they apologized to Ocasio-Cortez for the incident.

Councilmembers Miguel Arias and Esmeralda Soria used roughly $2,400 from their city-allocated budgets to fly to the nation’s capital to lobby for Congress to pass the DREAM Act to protect undocumented immigrant children and for clean drinking water infrastructure aid, they claimed.

Bredefeld did not buy their explanation for the trip.

“Quite honestly, I don’t believe the trip would’ve happened except for their desire to meet with this socialist congresswoman,” Bredefeld said in an interview on Tuesday with The Fresno Bee, which first reported this story.

He did not accuse Arias and Soria of lying about the reason for their trip, but added that the people of Fresno can “judge for themselves whether their trip was necessary and whether it was appropriate.”

Visiting Ocasio-Cortez was just one component of a multi-purpose visit to the capital to continue advocating Fresno's needs to federal lawmakers and building off a trip councilmembers took in May for a similar purpose, Soria told The Bee.

“It happened to be that we had the opportunity to do all of the work we did, plus meet with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez,” Soria said. “At the end of the day, as elected officials and leaders, we have to make ourselves available to go to our state and federal representative so they know what we need and the needs of our constituents.”

Soria and Arias met the New York Democratic congresswoman at the Capitol and delivered her an apology and gear from the Fresno Grizzlies — the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate that played the video that sparked the controversy.

Multiple companies pulled their sponsorships from the team after news broke of the video.

The video featured an image of Ocasio-Cortez — a frequent target of conservatives because of her advocacy for programs such as a Green New Deal to combat climate change — superimposed over audio of a speech given by President Ronald Reagan warning against the “enemies of freedom.”

The team apologized after the video was played, saying it had not been properly vetted before it was shown in the stadium, and it reprimanded the employee responsible for playing it.

“The video was not produced, created or commissioned by the Fresno Grizzlies. It was carelessly taken from YouTube,” the team said in May.

The Grizzlies have publicly apologized to Ocasio-Cortez.

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