Recent reports appear to show that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s boyfriend, Riley Roberts, was paid $6,000 from a “rich guy” when her campaign ran out of money.
Journalist Luke Thompson, posted a screenshot last week of Roberts’s House Microsoft Outlook card, which included an official house.gov email address, an office phone number, and his designation as “Staff”. Weird, right?
Well Cortez wasn’t very happy that this news was found out. Here is what she said in response.
So her boyfriend needed an official house.gov email address, an office phone number and a job designation of “Staff” just so he could have access to her calendar? Seriously?
Cortez’s Chief of Staff even joined in by saying that Thompson was doxxing Mr. Roberts. One little problem with this claim. Roberts’ LinkedIn profile was publicly available which showed his official government address and the office phone number.
So why did Cortez’s boyfriend need all of this information in the first place? Neither Cortez or her Chief of Staff answered this question.
Thompson then got suspended from Twitter for “releasing private information” even though all the information was publicly available. Check out what Thompson had to say.
During my suspension I talked to a Congressional spouse, a few reporters, and some staffers from both parties. AOC hasn’t exactly been winning friends lately, which is how I got Roberts’s Outlook screen grab in the first place. A rumor on the Hill was circulating that Roberts had attended a Congressional Progressive Caucus meeting. A tipster looked to see if he’d been given staff credentials. It appeared he had. All agreed this was irregular if he was just a spouse.
Per the House Admin office, a family member can, in special circumstances, get a house.gov email address. But Roberts is not a family member, and although AOC referred to him as her partner in November of last year, she omitted him from her mandatory candidate financial disclosures for 2017 and 2018. Perhaps they’ve gotten married since. If so — if he is her spouse now — we should see his finances disclosed along with hers in her 2019 disclosure form due in May. But to be clear, AOC did not disclose Roberts’s finances as a spouse during her campaign.
Regardless, absent a wavier from House Ethics, family members have to be volunteers. AOC’s office apparently doesn’t believe in having unpaid workers, as according to Chakrabarti they have no volunteers in the office.
AOC has only been in Congress for a couple months and she is already adapting to the ways of the swamp. It gets worse.
Thompson did a little more digging and found out some more questionable activities.
At the beginning of 2017, Chakrabarti created Brand New Congress, an organization dedicated to shaking things up in Democratic primaries. It’s a rather ingenious organization, but one that dwells in a legal gray-area as far as campaign finance law is concerned. It facilitates campaigns on shoestring budgets by providing a single clearinghouse for campaign services, generally filed under the banner of “strategic consulting”. But, as a result, it limits the meaningfulness of FEC disclosures by those campaigns. Additionally, it means that Brand New Congress, unlike most PACs, spends most of its budget on overhead and makes relatively few actual contributions to candidates.
According to FEC records, the PAC was founded in mid-January of 2017. At the end of February, it affiliated with Justice Democrats, a collaboration between Chakrabarti and Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks. The two organizations are inextricably linked. Chakrabarti lists himself as a Co-Founder of both Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats on his LinkedIn page.
Continue reading what happened below:
“A quick tour through AOC’s campaign expenditures reveals the extent to which Brand New Congress midwifed her campaign into existence, precisely as the FAQ described above would have it. But AOC’s campaign was different from the others backed by Brand New Congress PAC, and not simply because she won. Like other candidates, AOC paid Brand New Congress LLC for strategic consulting, in her case totaling $18,880.14. Unlike in the other cases, Brand New Congress PAC turned around and paid her boyfriend as a “marketing consultant””, wrote Thompson.
“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 continued.
Brand New Congress PAC paid Roberts $3,000 on August 9th (via Thompson):
Eighteen days later, AOC’s campaign paid Brand New Congress LLC $6,191.32:
“A month later Brand New Congress PAC then turned around and paid Riley Roberts another $3,000”, Thompson added.
Here is another big piece of this report….AOC’s campaign was strapped for cash when this mystery donor stepped in:
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. By the end of 2017 she’d spent $37,249.94 but raised only $8,361.03. That’s a lot of money to stick on a credit card. Since no loans are recorded on her campaign books, presumably either AOC or Roberts was fronting the necessary cash.
It looks to me like 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.
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.
As Thomspon points out, AOC went and hired Chakrabarti as her Chief of Staff after she won her election.
Thompson claims this action is “unethical” and “potentially illegal”.
What are your thoughts? Comment below…