Following recent revelations about her less than ecologically correct lifestyle, controversial socialist congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is facing questions again after a watchdog group filed a complaint with the Federal Electoral Commission. It’s alleged that despite claiming to support fairer and more open campaign funding, AOC herself benefited from some pretty shady financial maneuvers.
Funding is vital for any political campaign, but it’s also a useful tool for anyone who wants to influence a politician. That’s why there are strict rules on how much campaigns are allowed to accept and how they have to account for the money. Now, Ocasio-Cortez is in the crosshairs for running a campaign funded by obscure — and possibly illegal — methods.
- The National Legal and Policy Center, a nonprofit watchdog group dedicated to ensuring fair and open government, submitted a formal complaint to the Federal Electoral Commission; it alleges serious breaches of campaign finance rules and names Ocasio-Cortez and her Chief of Staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, as respondents.
- According to the NLPC, Chakrabarti got around limits on donations and how they can be spent by transferring cash donations from two Political Action Committees he set up to help push “progressive” candidates into office. AOC was one of those candidates.
- Chakrabarti’s PACs — Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats — are subject to all the usual rules PACs have to obey. For example, federal PACs, like Chakrabarti’s, can donate a maximum of $5,000 to a candidate. They also have to disclose how and when money was spent.
- Between 2016 and 2017, the two PACs raised around $33 million in donations. Most of this was spent within the rules — but the NLPC says not all of it was.
- In 2016, 82% of donations to Brand New Congress — more than $200,00 — was transferred to Brand New Campaign LLC, a shell company also set up by Chakrabarti that exists only as a mailing address.
- The next year the PAC transferred another $240,000 to Brand New Congress LLC, another shell company. The second PAC; Justice Democrats, transferred a further $650,000.
- Private companies aren’t bound by the same rules as PACs, so by funneling donations into his two shell companies Chakrabarti could evade the rules on the size of donations to candidates. He could also spend money on campaigning without having to account for it. In effect, he created a large slush fund from money that should have been properly audited.
- Now the NLPC is asking for that auditing to be done, and Ocasio-Cortez is likely to be asked some pointed questions about what her chief of staff was up to with all that money — and how much of it she knew about.