A New Jersey Democrat changed an ad for college interns on his website to state that he will pay at least some of them after receiving backlash from progressives on Twitter about it.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer first drew criticism over the weekend with a tweet announcing his office’s internship program, which runs year-round for college students.
The problem was a line of text in the application that read, “While not all internships in all offices are paid, students gain invaluable work experience” as part of the position.
The app drew mocking reactions from progressives on Twitter, including Interception Ken Klippenstein, who noted that Mr. Gottheimer’s net worth is in the millions.
He later noted that the centrist Democratic congressman blocked him on the tweet, which had been retweeted hundreds of times (far more than Mr Gottheimer’s original tweet).
A progressive group formed during Sen Bernie Sanders’ two presidential candidacies, People for Bernie, also responded to Mr Gottheimer’s tweet, writing simply: “Pay your interns, Josh.” Their account was also blocked.
As of Monday afternoon, the congressman’s office had apparently changed its strategy on the matter. The updated text on Mr. Gottheimer’s website read: “The office uses the annual home-paid internship program to help pay interns.”
In an email to The independent, the congressman’s spokesperson said the old text was incorrect and the congressman’s office “always used the program to pay interns.” No explanation was given as to when interns started receiving remuneration, at what rate or why the text stated otherwise.
No notice of the change was apparent on Mr. Gottheimer’s website or on his social media accounts on Monday afternoon. The only evidence of the change came in the form of screenshots taken by Mr. Klippenstein and others during their review of the system.
Interns are generally paid below the minimum living wage on Capitol Hill, if at all; when paid through the house’s paid internship program, interns from house members receive an average of around $ 1,612.53 for seven-week programs, according to a 2021 report from Call. That’s well below what two months’ rent looks like for a small apartment in or around the DC area.
Some offices pay interns at a higher rate than offices that use the paid internship program from the house, which allocates members of the house $ 25,000 to be used for intern pay each year.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced in 2018 that she would pay her interns $ 15 / hour when she took up her post, which she does now. Such a rate of pay in Washington DC is approximately $ 1,800 per month.