Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti are “facing prison time” over “multiple violations of federal campaign finance law” according to former Federal Election Commission members who claim they “don’t really see any way out of it” for AOC.
The accusations leveled against the New York Democratic socialist and her chief of staff are particularly serious because there were only “three board members” on the campaign, and AOC and Chakrabarti were two of them, meaning they are unlikely to be able to plead ignorance of the systematic violations.
“At minimum, there’s a lot of smoke there, and if there are really only three board members and she and [Chakrabarti] are two of them, sure looks like you can see the blaze,” according to former FEC commissioner Brad Smith, who is predicting jail time for the freshman congresswoman.
“I don’t really see any way out of it.”
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a top aide appear to control an outside PAC credited with being the central force behind her June 2018 primary victory.
- One former Federal Election Commission member thinks there would be a “serious investigation” if a complaint were filed, noting that the probe could potentially result in civil penalties or even jail time for Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff.
- A second former commissioner said there were possibly “multiple violations of federal campaign finance law.”
- Justice Democrats ran campaigns for Ocasio-Cortez and 11 other Democrats, but the New York Democrat was the only one to win her general election.
Daily Caller reports: Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti obtained majority control of Justice Democrats PAC in December 2017, according to archived copies of the group’s website, and the two appear to retain their control of the group, according to corporate filings obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
If the Federal Election Commission (FEC) finds that the New York Democrat’s campaign operated in affiliation with the PAC, which had raised more than $1.8 million before her June 2018 primary, it would open them up to “massive reporting violations, probably at least some illegal contribution violations exceeding the lawful limits,” former FEC commissioner Brad Smith said.
Ocasio-Cortez never disclosed to the FEC that she and Chakrabarti, who served as her campaign chair, controlled the PAC while it was simultaneously supporting her primary campaign, and former FEC commissioners say the arrangement could lead to multiple campaign finance violations. The group backed 12 Democrats during the 2018 midterms, but Ocasio-Cortez was the only one of those to win her general election.
“If the facts as alleged are true, and a candidate had control over a PAC that was working to get that candidate elected, then that candidate is potentially in very big trouble and may have engaged in multiple violations of federal campaign finance law, including receiving excessive contributions,” former Republican FEC commissioner Hans von Spakovsky told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
And fellow former FEC commissioner Brad Smith told TheDCNF that if “a complaint were filed, I would think it would trigger a serious investigation.” He also noted that such a probe could potentially result in jail time for Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff, Chakrabarti.
Republican election attorney Charlie Spies told TheDCNF: “It looks like the campaign and PAC are under common control and the PAC was funding campaign staff and activities as an alter-ego of the campaign committee, which would be a blatant abuse of the PAC rules.”
Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti could face prison if the FEC determines that they knowingly and willfully withheld their ties between the campaign and the political action committee from the FEC to bypass campaign contribution limits, according to Smith.
“At minimum, there’s a lot of smoke there, and if there are really only three board members and she and [Chakrabarti] are two of them, sure looks like you can see the blaze,” Smith, a Republican, told TheDCNF. “I don’t really see any way out of it.”