National Review contributor and podcast host Luke Thompson was suspended from Twitter last month after drawing attention to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) listing her boyfriend Riley Roberts as a staff member in the House of Representatives email directory, potentially drawing a taxpayer-funded salary. Ocasio-Cortez and her office denied that Roberts is on staff (although he is listed as such) and drawing a salary. The truth is still very much unclear.
Thompson has not let the apparently targeted suspension deter him, though. On Wednesday, Thompson laid out potential swampy corruption from supposed swamp-hating Ocasio-Cortez.
According to Thompson, the Democrat’s wealthy benefactor named Saikat Chakrabarti may have funneled PAC payments over the legal limit to her boyfriend in order to fund her campaign. Now, Chakrabarti is serving as Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff.
“A rich guy used a PAC to pay [Ocasio-Cortez’s] boyfriend $6,000 when her campaign was running out of money. After AOC won, she gave that rich guy a job in her office. Follow me on a journey,” Thompson posted Wednesday.
A rich guy used a PAC to pay @AOC's boyfriend $6,000 when her campaign was running out of money. After AOC won, she gave that rich guy a job in her office. Follow me on a journey.https://t.co/KSQqq3xKRY
— Luke Thompson (@ltthompso) February 20, 2019
“While Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign was paying an organization for ‘strategic consulting,’ a PAC affiliated with that organization was paying just under a third of that amount to her boyfriend. At the time her campaign was running low on funds. She would later hire the wealthy founder of this organization to be her chief of staff once she was elected to Congress,” a report from The Blaze summed up. “If the payments from the PAC to her boyfriend were meant to keep her campaign afloat, they were $1,000 over the legal limit for PAC donations in a calendar year.”
Breaking down what looks to be swamp-like behavior, Thompson reports that Chakrabarti, who’s now Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, at the start of 2017 created Brand New Congress, which works as a PAC (political action committee) and an LLC.
“This is a clever way to try to make running for office easier and to place a lot of small bets on a lot of insurgent candidates and hope for a few lucky wins. And that pretty much seems to be what happened,” wrote Thompson.
Ocasio-Cortez paid Brand New Congress LLC for said “strategic consulting” (totaling $18,880.14) like any other campaign would, noted Thompson. But, atypically, he said, “Brand New Congress PAC turned around and paid her boyfriend as a ‘marketing consultant.'”
“Indeed, while Brand New Congress PAC’s ten largest expenditures were paid to Brand New Congress LLC for ‘strategic consulting,’ a sum that totaled $261,165.20 over the course of the campaign, its eleventh and twelfth largest expenditures were paid to Riley Roberts,” he explained (emphasis added).
On August 8, Brand New Congress PAC paid $3,000 to Roberts; on August 27, Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign paid $6,191.32 to Brand New Congress LLC, he reports. Thompson notes that a month later, “Brand New Congress PAC then turned around and paid Riley Roberts another $3,000.”
Plus, the timing looks bad.
— Luke Thompson (@ltthompso) February 20, 2019
“At the beginning of October, more than four months into her campaign, AOC’s fundraising had been anemic. Excluding an in-kind contribution from Chakrabarti, she’d raised only $3,032.75 but had already spent $27,591.27 — more than half of which she’d paid to Chakrabarti’s Brand New Congress LLC,” said Thompson. “By the end of 2017 she’d spent $37,249.94 but raised only $8,361.03.”
Thompson suggests either Ocasio-Cortez or her boyfriend “was fronting the necessary cash.”
“Chakrabarti was effectively reimbursing AOC for a third of her expenses with Brand New Congress LLC, perhaps so that she would stay in the race despite her mounting debt,” he said. “The shadiness of the whole business may also explain why Roberts lists his residence as Arizona for the expenditure, rather than New York. Roberts is from Arizona, but was living in New York with AOC. His other contributions to her campaign, both cash and in-kind, list New York as his residence.”
Thompson concludes: “When AOC won, she then hired Chakrabarti, her strategist/patron, as her Chief of Staff. Taking money from a rich guy, trying to hide it by passing it through a PAC, and then giving her benefactor a government job. That’s definitely unethical and potentially illegal. Chakrabarti may have made an illegal campaign contribution in excess of federal limits.”
Moreover, as noted by The Blaze, Ocasio-Cortez’s current communications director is Corbin Trent. He was formerly the communications director for Justice Democrats; Justice Democrats is a PAC tied to Brand New Congress that was created by Chakrabarti and The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur.
FEC filings show “Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign paid Justice Democrats $2,626.32 on November 1, 2017, for ‘strategic consulting,'” notes The Blaze. As shown on Open Secrets, a site exposing so-called dark money, Justice Democrats donated $5,000 to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign.
“Ocasio-Cortez shunned corporate PACs, but her campaign accepted $10,000 from two progressive PACs: MoveOn.org and Justice Democrats. Both PACs contributed $5,000 each to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign,” notes Open Secrets.
At the start of my run for Congress, I publicly pledged to reject all corporate PAC money.
That’s because I didn’t want anything to get between my community and my advocacy.
We won with an average donation of $22.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 29, 2018
Author: Amanda Prestigiacomo