Saikat Chakrabarti, the brains behind socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) who also serves as her chief of staff, allegedly funneled over $1 million in political donations to his own private companies, according to a new complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission.
“Chakrabarti’s companies appear to have been set up for the sole purpose of obscuring how the political donations were used,” The Washington Examiner reported. “The arrangement skirted reporting requirements and may have violated the $5,000 limit on contributions from federal PACs to candidates, according to the complaint filed by the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group.”
Experts looking at the arrangement see red flags.
Campaign finance attorneys told the Examiner that Chakrabarti’s actions were “really weird,” and that they are an indication that “there’s something amiss.”
Tom Anderson, the director of the National Legal and Policy Center’s Government Integrity Project, told the Examiner: “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.”
This follows concerns that were already raised about how Ocasio-Cortez’s “living wage” rule, upping the minimum salary and lowering the higher salaries of her staff, enabled the staff like Chakrabarti, from public disclosure requirements as to outside income, gifts and stock trading activity.
Anderson called out such an arrangement too. “Purposefully underpaying staffers in order to avoid transparency is an old trick some of the most corrupt members of Congress have used time and again,” he said.
The New York Post reported over the weekend that Chakrabarti may have broken campaign finance laws; he founded a PAC called Justice Democrats, which was paid $41,108.59 for “campaign services” and “strategic consulting” by Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign in 2017 and 2018, according to Federal Election Commission filings. But as the Post noted, PACs are barred from offering over $5,000 a year worth of services for any single candidate, per FEC regulations. If candidates exceed that amount, they must consult the FEC.
Ocasio-Cortez has also had a complaint filed against her with the FEC over payments to her boyfriend.
Her campaign transferred a total of $6,191.32 to Brand New Congress PAC in late August and September 2017, which contemporaneously had its affiliated LLC pay $6,000 to her boyfriend, Riley. And it’s alleged that process then masked that it was really being paid to Roberts.
According to the NY Post, Dan Backer, an attorney for the Foundation said that it is perfectly legal to hire family. But instead of that “they paid him through an intermediary – in order to obscure the fact they paid him.”
Chakrabarti, 33, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, recently purchased a $1.6 million home in Maryland.
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