New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Saikat Chakrabarti, the progressive firebrand’s multimillionaire chief of staff, apparently violated campaign finance law by working to funnel nearly $1 million in contributions from political action committees Chakrabarti established to private companies that he also controlled, according to an explosive complaint filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and obtained by Fox News.
Amid the allegations, a former FEC commissioner late Monday suggested in an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation that Ocasio-Cortez and her team could be facing major fines and potentially even jail time if they were knowingly and willfully violating the law by hiding their control of the Justice Democrats political action committee (PAC). Such an arrangement could have allowed Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign to receive donations in excess of the normal limit, by pooling contributions to both the PAC and the campaign itself.
“Ocasio-Cortez and her team could be facing major fines and potentially even jail time”former FEC commissioner
The FEC complaint asserts that Chakrabarti established two PACs, the Brand New Congress PAC and Justice Democrats PAC, and then systematically transfered more than $885,000 in contributions received by those PACs to the Brand New Campaign LLC and the Brand New Congress LLC — companies that, unlike the PACs, are exempt from reporting all of its expenditures over $200. The PACs claimed the payments were for “strategic consulting.”
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.
The complaint was drafted by the conservative, Virginia-based National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC). Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti, according to the NLPC’s complaint, appeared to have “orchestrated an extensive off-the-books operation to make hundreds of thousands of dollars of expenditures in support of multiple candidates for federal office.”
The funds, the NLPC writes, were likely spent on campaign events for Ocasio-Cortez and other far-left Democratic candidates favored by Chakrabarti, who made his fortune in Silicon Valley and previously worked on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. But no precise accounting for the expenses is available, and the complaint asks the FEC to conduct an investigation into the matter immediately.