On Monday an ethics watchdog group filed a complaint with the Federal Election Committee accusing socialist congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, of misusing money collected by two of his pro-AOC political action committees.
The complaint by the National Legal and Policy Center specifically alleges that after Chakrabarti launched two pro-AOC PACs, he transferred nearly a million in campaign donations from the PACs to two of his private companies. He did so under the guise that the companies had provided “strategic consulting” to the PACs.
AOC FEC Complaint as Filed https://t.co/dfkhYuhNXx
— David, Blessed ‘Whosoever (@David50322604) March 5, 2019
“The FEC complaint asserts that Chakrabarti established two PACs, the Brand New Congress PAC and Justice Democrats PAC, and then systematically transferred more than $885,000 in contributions received by those PACs to the Brand New Campaign LLC and the Brand New Congress LLC,” Fox News reported.
“Although large financial transfers from PACs to LLCs are not necessarily improper, the complaint argues that the goal of the ‘extensive’ scheme was seemingly to illegally dodge detailed legal reporting requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, which are designed to track campaign expenditures.”
Whereas PACs are required to publicly document their every expenditure, private companies are not. Moreover, PACs are only allowed to contribute $5,000 to a candidate per election. A primary election and general election each count separately, meaning Chakrabarti’s PACs were only allowed to contribute $10,000 total each to AOC’s 2018 election campaign.
This isn’t AOC first run-in with the FEC:
….But she’s a Democrat—they don’t have to abide by the laws of America…. Ocasio-Cortez hit with FEC complaint over alleged ‘scheme’ to launder campaign cash to her boyfriend https://t.co/sIPwErsS8u
— mmmDONALD (@mmmmDONALD) March 1, 2019
It’s unclear if and how much Chakrabarti’s companies spent on AOC’s campaign. Because the companies weren’t forced to publicly document their expenses, the money transferred to them could have either been pocketed or used to fund off-the-books campaign operations.
Tom Anderson, the director of the National Legal and Policy Center’s Government Integrity Project, believes the latter scenario most likely occurred.
“It appears Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her associates ran an off-the-books operation to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, thus violating the foundation of all campaign finance laws: transparency,” he said to the Washington Examiner.
Bradley A. Smith, a former FEC commissioner, seemed to concur with this assessment.
“It’s a really weird situation,” he said. “I see almost no way that you can do that without it being at least a reporting violation, quite likely a violation of the contribution limits. You might say from a campaign finance angle that the LLC was essentially operating as an unregistered committee.”
To find out what really happened to the money, an investigation is needed.
“Complainant National Legal and Policy Center is asking the Commission to conduct an investigation, including an audit of named respondent committees, in accordance with the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended, for the purpose of identifying the expenditures by Brand New Congress, LLC that were made in connection with Congressional elections in 2018,” the complaint reads.
According to Smith, both and Ocasio-Cortez could potentially face jail time for these violations. Why AOC as well? Because according to corporate filings reviewed by The Daily Caller News Foundation, both Chakrabarti and AOC have had majority control of Justice Democrats PAC since December of 2017.
“At minimum, there’s a lot of smoke there, and if there are really only three board members and she and [Chakrabarti] are two of them, sure looks like you can see the blaze. I don’t really see any way out of it,” Smith said in a statement to the DCNF, adding that both could be facing prison time if the FEC determines they orchestrated a scheme to bypass campaign contribution limits.
Hans von Spakovsky, yet another former FEC commissioner, agreed.
“If the facts as alleged are true, and a candidate had control over a PAC that was working to get that candidate elected, then that candidate is potentially in very big trouble and may have engaged in multiple violations of federal campaign finance law, including receiving excessive contributions,” he said.
Charlie Spies, an election attorney with “over two decades of experience providing strategic counsel at the highest levels in Washington D.C. and nationwide,” also concurred.
“It looks like the campaign and PAC are under common control and the PAC was funding campaign staff and activities as an alter-ego of the campaign committee, which would be a blatant abuse of the PAC rules,” he said.
So that’s one watchdog group, two former FEC commissioners and an election attorney who all suspect AOC and Chakrabarti may be in deep doo doo. And this doesn’t even include the myriads of folks on social media who believe the same thing:
BOMBSHELL: AOC’s Chief of Staff Allegedly Funneled $1M+ in Donations to His Private Business – Update America. @AOC @RepAOC YOU R IN SUCH TROUBLE U LIKE TALKING ABOUT PRESIDENT WHEN UR DIRTIER THAN HE HE COULD EVER BE THIS IS JAIL TIME https://t.co/Kk08ykmfpE
— United We Stand ?? (@EddieLEnright) March 5, 2019
@AOC any comment on the $1M in campaign finances you and your COS embezzled? Prison wont be kind to “the boss”
— ??Deplorable Keelan⭐⭐⭐ (@HDimproveshomes) March 5, 2019
I think she’s probably going to prison.
— Joe P. K. (@Sincerly_sam) March 5, 2019
@AOC you are a criminal, you belong in prison! #AOC4PRISON
— brad nott (@elevatorman99) March 5, 2019
https://t.co/PdOTFHXPFV#followthemoney. #AOC and her foreign #muslim #COS, aka POS, may well spend time in prison for systematically hiding $1,000,000 in campaign contributions. The bitch has been caught. Guess her slam on moderates has backfired. #AOC4prison.
— Candidate Issues (@Run4Congress) March 5, 2019
Say hi to Reality Winner while you are in prison.
— ItAintMe (@ItAintM61988083) March 5, 2019
@AOC so, once again… You show your hypocrisy. Commit campaign finance fraud? Wow, I hope that congress throws the book at you. Not even in office for a half a year and looking at prison time.
— Jake Randolph (@Kilith4) March 5, 2019
The good news is that if AOC were indeed sent to prison, she could finally get a small taste of what real socialism feels like, given as inmates receive fairly small amounts of food, all of it rationed out via veritable bread lines like the one seen below:
When prison food is punishment: http://t.co/pHWNrGz4Ay pic.twitter.com/aZ14wQ2JZ8
— VICE (@VICE) September 23, 2015
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