Courage to Change is a Democratic political action committee (PAC) started by U.S. Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). She is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and a former campaign organizer for democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) in the 2016 Democratic primary. Ocasio-Cortez has since her surprise primary election victory against Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) actively campaigned in Democratic Party primaries for further-left candidates such as James Thompson in Kansas’ 4th district during the 2018 midterm election.
Courage to Change is technically a Leadership PAC, which are made by prominent political figures or entities (such as Democratic and Republican caucus leadership) in order to fund elections in ways that a campaign committee legally cannot. Leadership PACs are usually created to raise the sponsor’s public profile and to support candidates that fit the sponsor’s ideological or personal agenda.
Courage to Change was officially filed within the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on November 28th, 2018, less than a month after Ocasio-Cortez won in New York’s 14th district congressional election. The term “courage to change” was originally used by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as her 2018 Congressional primary campaign slogan. In that campaign, she competed against senior incumbent Rep. Joseph Crowley and created the video “Courage to Change” to present her Democratic Socialists of America-aligned platform. The cinematic video used fears of gentrification and rising median incomes in a narrative format to advocate a more left-wing position against the senior Democrat.
The video itself was produced by the now-rescinded Detroit-based video production corporation Means of Production. The organization was run and operated by DSA activists Naomi Burton and Nick Hayes, who were able to make the video for under $10,000.
After her primary success during July 2018, Cortez was part of a political rally for Kansas’ 4th district Democratic nominee in the 2018 midterm elections, James Thomson. Thomson was able to win the Democratic primary election with the help of Cortez and democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) despite receiving no support from the Democratic Party establishment. Thomson lost the general election against incumbent Rep. Ron Estes (R-Kansas).
According to FEC filings, Courage to Change will use the SEIU-affiliated bank, Amalgamated Bank of New York, to deposit and maintain funds. Amalgamated Bank holds accounts for other left-wing people and groups including Ready for Hillary (Hillary Clinton’s super PAC) and the Democratic National Committee.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the sponsor of the PAC and a member-elect of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York’s 14th district. Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the DSA and is a former campaign manager for democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) in the 2016 Democratic primary.
Frank Llewellyn serves as the treasurer for Courage to Change and was previously the National Director of the DSA. Llewellyn also serves as the treasurer for Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign committee, which uses the same office as Courage to Change.