Ocasio-Cortez hit with FEC complaint over alleged ‘scheme’ to launder campaign cash to her boyfriend

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is facing a Federal Election Commission complaint which alleges that thousands of dollars were laundered through a political action committee to her boyfriend.

The Coolidge Reagan Foundation filed the complaint Wednesday, naming the New York Democrat, her  congressional campaign, and Brand New Congress – the company she hired to run the campaign which allegedly paid her boyfriend Riley Roberts, Fox News reported.

(Image: screenshot)

The payments were initially flagged in a blog post on Medium by political consultant Luke Thompson who claimed Roberts was paid $6,000 by the PAC owned by the congresswoman’s current chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti.

Ocasio-Cortez shot back at the allegation on Twitter saying, “The conspiracy machine is in full effect & it’s been disappointing to watch professionals get duped + amplify unvetted Medium posts as truth, treating journalism like it’s a high school LiveJournal rumor mill or something. No, I don’t shadily pay my boyfriend. Come on & VET.”

The complaint filed by the Washington, D.C.-based Coolidge Reagan Foundation points to two $3,000 payments made to Roberts for “marketing consultant” services. The payments were made by Brand New Congress PAC and were made early on in the congressional campaign.

The Republican group noted in the FEC complaint that campaign finance law may have been violated, citing “intermediaries” that were used to make the payments as well as “the vague and amorphous nature of the services Riley ostensibly provided.” The complaint also cited the rather modest amount of funds raised by the campaign at that point and “the romantic relationship between Ocasio-Cortez and Riley.”

“It’s not illegal for [Ocasio-Cortez] to pay her boyfriend, but it appears that they created some sort of scheme to avoid claiming the money [as a campaign expense],” Dan Backer, the attorney who filed the complaint on behalf of the foundation, told Fox News. “What exactly did he do for that money?”

The foundation has asked the FEC to look into whether the transactions might have violated campaign finance law which state that campaign contributions “shall not be converted by any person to personal use” and that “an authorized committee must report the name and address of each person who has received any disbursement not disclosed.”

Brand New Congress PAC officials have previously refuted allegations that the payments to Roberts were questionable, with BNC’s Communications Director Zeynab Day claiming Ocasio-Cortez’s boyfriend was hired based “on his experience managing successful advertising and social media campaigns,” and that he “is a professional digital marketing and growth consultant who specializes in social media presence and subscriber engagement.”

In a series of tweets elaborating on his report, Thompson noted that Roberts, who has lived with Ocasio-Cortez in New York City for some time, used separate addresses for the transactions. Thompson also pointed out that Roberts “doesn’t work in marketing.”

But Day had pushed back on the claims in the previous statement.

“He was hired through a 2 month trial period, beginning on August 3, 2017, and worked through the end of September 2017,” BNC’s Day added, according to Fox News. “Services to the Brand New Congress PAC consisted of advertising strategies for potential growth, developing metrics, and aiding in execution of strategy to increase brand awareness for the PAC as a whole.”

Thompson’s report came shortly after he had tangled with Ocasio-Cortez after revealing that Roberts was listed in the House of Representatives’ directory as a staffer and given a congressional email account.

The self-proclaimed democratic socialist fired back at Thompson, telling him, “Next time check your facts before you tweet nonsense.”

She defended her actions and claimed her boyfriend was given the designation just so he could have access to her calendar. Her chief of staff backed her argument, insisting Roberts was not on staff and giving him access to the calendar was a completely legal move for a spouse or partner.

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