Although the congresswoman insists otherwise, one independent reporter says New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is just as swampy as any other Democrat in Congress.
In a report based on public documents, political pundit and strategist Luke Thompson alleged that Ocasio-Cortez’s 2018 campaign may have funneled money through a PAC to her boyfriend, a dubious arrangement that raises ethical questions and, according to Thompson, could be illegal.
Boyfriend makes bank
Thompson first revealed last week that Ocasio-Cortez’s boyfriend, Riley Roberts, had been granted an email address ending in @house.gov, a privilege that is typically reserved for staff and sometimes family of members of Congress. But Roberts is not officially married to Ocasio-Cortez — or at least, he was not when the congresswoman filled out campaign disclosures in 2017 and 2018 — and his status as an official staff member for her office remains in question.
This revelation from Thompson, which he first posted to Twitter, drew swift and spirited rebuttals from Ocasio-Cortez, her team, and many acolytes — which only prompted Thompson to do some more digging.
As it turns out, according to Thompson’s report on Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings, Roberts was paid to work on Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign in 2017 by a PAC that had been hired by the campaign to provide “strategic consulting” and other services.
That PAC was known as Brand New Congress, which was created by Silicon Valley tech millionaire Saikat Chakrabarti. The organization is legally structured as both a PAC and a separate limited liability company (LLC), both of which have goals of helping unknown and unconnected candidates gain equal ground against established opponents.
The Brand New Congress PAC is also closely affiliated with the Justice Democrats, which was co-founded by Chakrabarti and progressive leftist pundit Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks.
Money through the funnel
But that’s not all. A review by Thompson revealed that Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign paid Brand New Congress LLC slightly more than $18,000 in three separate payments for their work ahead of the 2018 midterms.
Soon after, Brand New Congress LLC paid Roberts at least $6,000 for his work as a “marketing consultant” for the Ocasio-Cortez campaign.
“Why would Chakrabarti, a founding engineer at Stripe and a wealthy veteran of Silicon Valley, be hiring a no-name ‘UX Experience’ guy with little discernible marketing experience to serve as Brand New Congress PAC’s sole marketing consultant?” Thompson wondered, referring to Roberts. “The answer seems to be that Chakrabarti was funneling money paid to him by AOC’s campaign back to Roberts and by extension to AOC.”
Put simply, according to Thompson: “It seems probable Chakrabarti was reimbursing [Ocasio-Cortez] for her campaign expenses off-books” via Roberts. This claim, like the rest of Thompson’s report, has not been confirmed — but it seems Chakrabarti maintains a close relationship with Ocasio-Cortez and her boyfriend.
After Ocasio-Cortez won her campaign in 2018, Chakrabarti was hired on as the congresswoman’s chief of staff, prompting further speculation of wrongdoing from pundits like Thompson, who has been barraged with hate messages from supporters of AOC, including Chakrabarti and even the congresswoman herself. His Twitter account was also temporarily suspended, though Twitter soon reinstated it and apologized.
Meanwhile, it seems Ocasio-Cortez and her campaign have some explaining to do. Perhaps these shady dealings can be explained away, but if Chakrabarti indeed “made an illegal campaign contribution in excess of federal limits” like Thompson alleges, there’s no getting out of this one for AOC.