Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's chief of staff accused of illegally funneling nearly $1million in political donations to his own firms

The top aide, Saikat Chakrabarti — a Harvard-educated tech millionaire — reportedly set up the Brand New Congress PAC as a means to collect contributions to boost new members of Congress


                            Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's chief of staff accused of illegally funneling nearly $1million in political donations to his own firms

The chief of staff of New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has reportedly been accused of funneling nearly $1 million in political contributions from a Political Action Committee (PAC) he controlled into his own firms, according to a watchdog group, which has filed a new Federal Elections Commission complaint.

The top aide, Saikat Chakrabarti — a Harvard-educated tech millionaire — reportedly set up the Brand New Congress PAC as a means to collect contributions to boost new members of Congress. PACs are required to disclose more details than what a firm would be required to reveal about how funds are spent.

The National Legal and Policy Center's Government Integrity Project, a watchdog group which has previously probed longtime New York Rep. Charles Rangel — a senior lawmaker —reportedly has named both AOC and her top aide in its complaint, according to the Washington Examiner.



 

Chakrabarti reportedly raised $3.3 million through his PAC and diverted more than $1 million to his companies, the outlet said. Reports state that he assisted in founding both Brand New Congress PAC and Justice Democrats, with the prime aim of bringing new and progressive members like AOC to Congress.

The 33-year-old top aide, after starting Brand New Congress, he formed a Delaware-based LLC and Brand New Campaign LLC. Detailed disclosure requirements of itemized expenses were hence avoided by shifting the funds, according to the outlet.

A former FEC lawyer Adav Noti of the Campaign Legal Center, while talking to the publication, said: "None of that makes any sense. I can't even begin to disentangle that. They're either confused or they're trying to conceal something."

Congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stands with Zephyr Teachout after endorsing her for New York City Public Advocate on July 12, 2018 in New York City. (Getty Images)
Congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stands with Zephyr Teachout after endorsing her for New York City Public Advocate on July 12, 2018 in New York City. (Getty Images)

Shortly after the allegations against her chief of staff, Ocasio-Cortez released a statement to Washington Times on Monday saying that Chakrabarti is not on her payroll. "He’s not on my payroll. They were not working for me and they are two separate entities here. This is the difference between an LLC and a PAC," she said. Reports state that AOC's campaign had paid the LLC for "strategic consulting."

The watchdog's complaint argues that the arrangement made by Chakrabarti was illegal and that it skirted a $5,000 PAC contribution requirement.