Andrew Kerr, DCNF
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has ties with Organize for Justice, a 501(c)(4) dark money group that trains progressive organizers across the country.
- Ocasio-Cortez serves on the board of Justice Democrats, the “sister organization” of the dark money group.
- Ocasio-Cortez once called dark money the “enemy of democracy.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has ties with a dark money group that trains progressive organizers on how to lead grassroots political campaigns across the country.
The group, Organize for Justice, is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, meaning it can raise unlimited sums of money without having to disclose the identity of its donors to the public.
Organize for Justice’s website states that it is the “sister organization” of Justice Democrats, the PAC that, according to corporate filings, Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff have held control over since December 2017.
Ocasio-Cortez has frequently decried the use of dark money in politics. During her primary campaign, she said dark money was an “enemy to democracy” and that it poses a “very real danger” of silencing grassroots candidates.
Dark money is used to manipulate electorates. It is the enemy to democracy. Period.
When politicians and corporations weaved their dark web of campaign finance, they created a ticking time bomb for foreign adversaries.
To make our democracy safer, we need to get big money OUT. https://t.co/OYX62jboZH
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 17, 2018
Organize for Justice was founded by former Ocasio-Cortez campaign volunteers in November, according to corporate documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. Justice Democrats’ executive director, Alexandra Rojas, also serves on the board of the dark money group.
In February, the group launched Movement School, a 10-week training program tasked with “incubating cohorts of highly skilled professionals to lead grassroots political campaigns across the country,” according to its website.
The dark money group doesn’t charge its participants tuition fees, according to a frequently asked questions page on its website. It requests graduates “prioritize working for campaigns that live the values of Movement School.”
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her support for Movement School during its launch event in the Bronx.
Excited to see our community of organizers evolve to launch #MVMTSchool in the Bronx + online! 🚀@mvmtschool‘s goal is to educate & develop an army of skilled grassroots organizers, so you can make change in your community on your own. 💪🏽💜#ShowMeWhatDemocracyLooksLike https://t.co/3zw5c6aOp6
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 9, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Ocasio-Cortez has served on the board of the dark money group’s “sister organization,” Justice Democrats, since December 2017.
Her chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, has also been a Justice Democrats board member since December 2017, and also served as the political action committee’s executive director until February 2018, according to his LinkedIn.
Ocasio-Cortez’s attorney told Snopes on March 8 that she left Justice Democrats’ board in June 2018, but the PAC’s corporate filings with Washington, D.C., currently list her and Chakrabarti as “entity governors” of the group.
Ocasio-Cortez never disclosed to the Federal Election Commission that she and Chakrabarti, who served as her campaign chair, controlled Justice Democrats while it simultaneously supported her primary campaign.
If the FEC finds that her campaign and the PAC were operating in affiliation, it could result in “massive reporting violations,” former FEC commissioner Brad Smith previously told TheDCNF.
Former FEC Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky said in a Fox News op-ed Sunday that he believes there’s sufficient evidence to “justify opening a criminal investigation” into Ocasio-Cortez’s alleged campaign finance violations.
Neither Justice Democrats nor Organize for Justice returned requests for comment.