An explosive complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) by a non-profit group alleges New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, illegally funneled nearly $1 million in campaign contributions to privately owned companies.
The companies, controlled by Chakrabarti, allegedly received cash transfers from a pair of political action committees (PACs) that he personally oversaw.
The complaint, filed by the National Legal and Policy Center, alleges that Ocasio-Cortez’ top aide engaged in “an elaborate scheme to avoid proper disclosure of campaign expenditures” and that the effort was “coordinated” with other “respondents,” including the congresswoman herself.
News of the complaint has led to speculation, including by a former FEC commissioner, that if the campaign knowingly violated the law as alleged, Ocasio-Cortez and her staff could be facing substantial fines or possibly jail time.
— Ali Alexander 🇺🇸 (@ali) March 5, 2019
So Much For Reducing ‘Dark Money’ In Politics
During her campaign, Ocasio-Cortez lamented the “power of dark money” and pledged to reduce it from her own personal efforts.
The complaint filed by the NLPC, however, accuses her staff of orchestrating “an extensive off-the-books operation to make hundreds of thousands of dollars of expenditures in support of multiple candidates for federal office.”
They write that the expenditures may have been used for campaign events, but there is no measure accounting for that use.
Tom Anderson, director of the NLPC’s Government Integrity Project, railed against the campaign’s actions.
“These are not minor or technical violations,” Anderson said in a statement. “We are talking about real money here.”
“In all my years of studying FEC reports, I’ve never seen a more ambitious operation to circumvent reporting requirements,” he added. “Representative Ocasio-Cortez has been quite vocal in condemning so-called dark money, but her own campaign went to great lengths to avoid the sunlight of disclosure.”
Former FEC commissioner Brad Smith told the Daily Caller that Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff face serious penalties for their actions.
“If this were determined to be knowing and willful, they could be facing jail time,” Smith alleged. “Even if it’s not knowing and willful, it would be a clear civil violation of the act, which would require disgorgement of the contributions and civil penalties. I think they’ve got some real issues here.”
Former FEC Associate General Counsel for Policy Adav Noti also questioned the campaign’s setup.
“The law requires the PAC to report who it disperses money to,” Noti told Fox News. “You can’t try to evade that by routing it through an LLC or corporation or anyone else.”
The latest FEC complaint comes as another had been filed last week alleging that the socialist Democrat may have illegally funneled thousands of dollars through an allied PAC to her boyfriend.
Chakrabarti defended against a previous allegation that the boyfriend had been hired by the Congresswoman and added to a congressional email account in violation of House Ethics Rules, claiming it was common practice.
He’s not on staff/not paid. Spouses and partners normally get https://t.co/oqBCENJjNX e-mail addresses for the purpose of getting calendar access.
— Saikat Chakrabarti (@saikatc) February 15, 2019
In a far less serious but amusing controversy, Chakrabarti was pictured downing a hamburger at a restaurant after his boss told Americans they need to cut down on hamburger intake.
The New York GOP writes of Ocasio-Cortez, “She blows a lot of hot air, but is knee-deep in the muddy swamp.”
These mounting allegations seem to suggest that is an accurate statement.