Here's The Lawyer Working To Hold Ocasio-Cortez Accountable For Her Alleged Dark Money Activities

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Posted: Mar 07, 2019 4:00 PM
Here's The Lawyer Working To Hold Ocasio-Cortez Accountable For Her Alleged Dark Money Activities

Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Well, we’ve discussed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) ethics issues concerning her boyfriend's congressional email account, even though he’s not on her staff. There’s the illegal ownership of a super PAC while she was running for Congress and now, an ethics complaint about how AOC’s boyfriend used the said account. Here’s a brief rundown of all three ethics complaints. The lawyer who is involved with the FEC complaints against AOC was able to stop by Triggered to discuss the matter further.

Dan Backer is the founder of poltical.law, a premiere campaign finance and political law boutique in Northern Virginia. He’s also the president and founder of the Coolidge Reagan Foundation, whose mission is “to defend, protect, and advance liberty, particularly the principles of free speech enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution.”

Backer added that a lot of AOC’s alleged troubles could’ve been avoided if they, you know, followed the law, paid her boyfriend for whatever he did for her campaign, and had annotated what their expenditures were for accurately. Not hard. FEC reports are long, cumbersome, and not meant for public consumption. They’re boring. They last thousands of pages, so when people ask, how could she do this for how long, it’s because no one really likes peering into them. It would seem AOC was worried about the media reaction to her hiring her boyfriend. It wouldn’t have been disqualifying.

Will she go to jail for these alleged violations? Well, you’ll just have to listen. Mr. Back offered a detailed rundown of what is and isn’t legal about AOC's activities that should, at the minimum, end with her being slapped with a fat six-figure fine. Her involvement with the super PAC and her campaign for example is just plain illegal and she should have to answer for that. But what irks Backer to no end is the Democratic talking point about dark money and corporate donations. AOC probably has received and spent corporate donations, maybe not from PACs but from people who work at said corporations on an individual basis. Also, as for the crusade against dark money, well, from these complaints, she’s neck deep in it. It’s the hypocrisy of it all that Backer aims to hit home.

The three ethics issues facing AOC are listed below. Enjoy your weekend, folks. We’ll be back on Tuesday. 

First, Riley Robert’s having an email account that he really shouldn’t have (via MRCTV):

Freshman Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is under fire after it was revealed that her boyfriend had been given a congressional email account and was listed as "Staff" in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ocasio-Cortez after a screenshot of the email had been posted onto Twitter defended herself, saying that her boyfriend, Riley Roberts, had only been given a congressional email account so he could access her Google calendar.

According to the IT rules of the House, only U.S. House members, officers employees, fellows, interns, and contractors can use the electronic mail systems of Congress and its related resources. Roberts isn’t a spouse. He isn’t a staffer.

The second course: who controlled Justice Democrats PAC that was the point of the lance for AOC’s primary challenge in 2018? Oh, that would be her—and she didn’t disclose it (via Daily Caller):

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.

Oh wait; almost a million dollars illegally taken off the books

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Saikat Chakrabarti, the progressive firebrand's multimillionaire chief of staff, apparently violated campaign finance law by funneling nearly $1 million in contributions from political action committees Chakrabarti established to private companies that he also controlled, according to an explosive complaint filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and obtained by Fox News.

Amid the allegations, a former FEC commissioner late Monday suggested in an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation that Ocasio-Cortez and her team could separately be facing major fines and potentially even jail time if they were knowingly and willfully violating the law by hiding their control of the Justice Democrats political action committee (PAC). Such an arrangement could have allowed Ocasio-Cortez's campaign to receive donations in excess of the normal limit, by pooling contributions to both the PAC and the campaign itself.

The FEC complaint asserts that Chakrabarti established two PACs, the Brand New Congress PAC and Justice Democrats PAC, and then systematically transfered more than $885,000 in contributions received by those PACs to the Brand New Campaign LLC and the Brand New Congress LLC -- companies that, unlike PACs, are exempt from reporting all of their significant expenditures. The PACs claimed the payments were for "strategic consulting."

Although large financial transfers from PACs to LLCs are not necessarily improper, the complaint argues that the goal of the "extensive" scheme was seemingly to illegally dodge detailed legal reporting requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, which are designed to track campaign expenditures.

"It appears 'strategic consulting' was a mischaracterization of a wide range of activities that should have been reported individually," the complaint states.

And the latest ethics complaint…how AOC’s boyfriend used the account:

The Coolidge Reagan Foundation, a political nonprofit, alleges in the complaint that the New York Democratic lawmaker used her newly found congressional privileges in an unethical manner when she set up the House email address for Roberts.

“This Complaint alleges Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez improperly converted U.S. House resources to her non-official, personal use by obtaining an official ‘@mail.house.gov’ e-mail address for her boyfriend, despite the fact he was not employed by her congressional office,” reads a line from the complaint obtained by Fox News.

“Moreover, it appears she obtained the e-mail address for him by falsely designating him a ‘staff’ member.”

Attorneys for the foundation allege that Ocasio-Cortez violated restrictions on personal use of House services and equipment—as outlined in the House Ethics Manual. They maintain that the provision of an official House-based email address for Roberts is a violation of rules that prevent outside individuals from having an official account.

20190307 OCE Complaint Re t... by on Scribd

Ocasio-Cortez isn't worried about jail time, though maybe she should prepare for a hefty fine.