Uh Oh: Ocasio-Cortez Hit With More Ethics Trouble Over Boyfriend's Congressional Email Account

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Posted: Mar 07, 2019 12:58 PM
Uh Oh: Ocasio-Cortez Hit With More Ethics Trouble Over Boyfriend's Congressional Email Account

She came out swinging. She’s pushed the Green New Deal, which was economic insanity. She said fighting climate change was like fighting the Nazis. She chased Amazon out of New York City. She’s defending far-left Democratic colleagues who have peddled anti-Semitic trash on social media. And, like Trump, takes to social media to attack those piling on her appalling positions on policy. She is the female Trump in many ways. As she approaches the age where she would be eligible to run for president, coupled with the intense enthusiasm the base has for her, are there signs of trouble? Perhaps, but it all depends on if she survives this ethics complaint concerning her boyfriend and PAC money that was illegally moved around…allegedly. 

Luke Thompson unearthed this whole saga. He’s a political consultant who noticed that AOC’s boyfriend had a congressional email account. He’s not on staff…or is he? That’s what fired off the first salvo in a potential ethics violation for the freshman Democrat last month (via Fox News):

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is facing ethics questions after revelations the freshman lawmaker's office gave her boyfriend a congressional email account.

The democratic socialist waded into the issue in response to a tweet alleging boyfriend Riley Roberts had been put on staff. The tweet included a screenshot of an official House email address. Ocasio-Cortez insisted that he was only given the email account so he could access her calendar.

[…]

asked about the arrangement, David O'Boyle, the spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, told Fox News: "From time to time, at the request of members, spouses and partners are provided House email accounts for the purposes of viewing the member’s calendar."

But Jason Chaffetz, former chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said Ocasio-Cortez' claims don’t stack up.

"It’s totally naïve and inappropriate – you wouldn’t allow it in most companies, let alone the House of Representatives. There should be real consequences,” Chaffetz told Fox News.

[…]

Saikat Chakrabarti, the congresswoman’s chief of staff, insisted that the boyfriend isn’t on the payroll and that he’s not doing any work related to the government.

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House IT rules generally prohibit the use of “the House’s electronic mail systems and resources” by unauthorized members, and only “U.S. House of Representative Members, Officers, Employees, Fellows, Interns and Contractors” with appropriate permission can use the system.

Then, came the more serious charge that nearly a million dollars in campaign contributions were taken off the books. Also, it seems that AOC and her chief of staff, Chakrabarti, did not disclose that they were pretty much were running Justice Democrats PAC that was the point of the lance in the former’s successful primary challenge of Rep. Joe Crowley. PACS and official campaigns cannot coordinate (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.

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.

So, it’s a mess. The latest complaint deals with how AOC’s boyfriend Riley Roberts used his congressional email:

20190307 OCE Complaint Re t... by on Scribd

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.”

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The newly filed complaint is the latest to question the operations of Ocasio-Cortez's campaign and congressional office.

It was first reported last month that the allied Brand New Congress PAC paid Roberts during the early days of the Ocasio-Cortez campaign. According to FEC records, the PAC made two payments to Roberts – one in August 2017 and one in September 2017 – both for $3,000.

[…]

The FEC complaint specifically cites the use of "intermediaries" to make the payments, "the vague and amorphous nature of the services Riley ostensibly provided," the relatively small amount of money raised by the campaign at that stage and "the romantic relationship between Ocasio-Cortez and Riley" in asserting the transactions might violate campaign finance law.

“It’s not illegal for [Ocasio-Cortez] to pay her boyfriend, but it appears that they created some sort of scheme to avoid claiming the money [as a campaign expense],” [Dan] Backer told Fox News at the time. “What exactly did he do for that money?”

Mr. Baker is an attorney who filed this FEC complaint and he’ll be joining the Triggered podcast later today to discuss this further. Stay tuned.