National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) filed a formal Complaint today with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti, and several other individuals and groups who orchestrated an extensive operation to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign spending during the 2018 campaign, in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended.
The funds were expended in support of ten or more Congressional candidates by a for-profit entity called Brand New Congress LLC, apparently operated by Chakrabarti. The Act requires that all expenditures of $200 or more to be disclosed to the FEC, and their purpose identified. The Complaint alleges that Chakrabarti’s LLC served as a “cutout,” for at least $885,735 received from Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign and two federal political action committees, Brand New Congress PAC and Justice Democrats PAC.
The final disposition of the funds is unknown because whatever expenditures were made were never reported to the FEC. It appears, however, that they underwrote a score of campaign-related events and activities for Ocasio-Cortez and other Congressional candidates.
Chakrabarti described the operation on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow as a “unified” national campaign to elect progressives to Congress, whereby candidates would be freed from the responsibility of raising money or administering their campaigns. He did not mention that it would also free candidates from the responsibility of disclosure. He stated that one of the campaign’s priorities is to “get rid of the influence of money in politics.”
According to Tom Anderson, director of NLPC’s Government Integrity Project, “These are not minor or technical violations. 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. 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.”
NLPC helped expose irregularities in the use of campaign funds by ex-Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), who Ocasio-Cortez defeated for re-election in 2018.
Click here for Washington Examiner story by Alana Goodman titled, “AOC’s Chief of Staff Ran $1M Slush Fund by Diverting Campaign Cash to His Own Companies.”