On Thursday, lawyer Dan Backer was invited onto the Triggered podcast where he discussed the alleged dark money activities by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and her staff. Again, was this nefarious in intent? No. This wasn’t like how Tony Soprano moves money around. In fact, if they had just been upfront with whom they hired to do stuff and labeled properly on the FEC report, none of this would have been much of an issue, but they didn’t. It all stemmed from AOC’s boyfriend, Riley Roberts, having a congressional email account, even though he wasn’t on her staff. Political consultant Luke Thompson discovered this, and it just snowballed from there. It was later discovered that AOC and her now chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti had majority control of Justice Democrats PAC, which was the point of the lance in her primary challenge to Rep. Joe Crowley. They didn’t disclose to the FEC that she and Chakrabarti control the PAC during her insurgent congressional campaign. Now, the third ethics complaint stems from how Roberts used his account. He’s not on staff, nor is he her spouse, and it’s quite clear that boyfriends (and girlfriends) just can’t have access to the House electronic mail system. The regulations on that are quite clear.
Oh, and what is this about nearly a million dollars being 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 transferred 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."
There's a new hybrid super PAC "Stop the @AOC PAC" that registered with the @FEC yesterday.— Ashley Balcerzak (@abalcerzak) March 8, 2019
The treasurer is @DanBackerEsq, who advises a ton of political committees, including a handful of pro-@realDonaldTrump groups: https://t.co/cLpTSMPHRk) pic.twitter.com/WV3VLrL2fs
In case you’re curious about where the sudden flood of bogus ethics “complaints” & fake “scandals” are coming from, GOP troll groups are filing a ton of random claims.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 9, 2019
There’s already a dark-money operation aimed at me just 2 months into my job - happy #InternationalWomansDay!?? https://t.co/leiTN6bndS
Yes, this did not go unnoticed by AOC, who tweeted that these complaints were bogus. Justice Democrats shot off an email Friday with a call to arms as well:
We’ve found the anti-JD, and they’re coming after our movement.
A notorious Republican lawyer with ties to multiple Trump-affiliated Super PACs was just caught founding a new Super PAC called the “Stop the AOC PAC” just yesterday.
Dan Backer is affiliated with Great America PAC, Donald Trump’s down-ballot machine that campaigns for Trump loyalists in Congress. They alone spent almost $10 million in 2018 to fight for hateful and greedy Republicans, including for Roy Moore and Kelli Ward.
This Super PAC stands for everything we’re against, and that means they’re perfectly willing to take millions from corporations to weaponize it against our agenda. Help us defend our progressive ideals with a $3 contribution now »
Far-right Super PACs like these have spent millions of dollars trying to undermine progressive ideals, and protect the interests of corporate millionaires and billionaires. Now, they’re exploiting a shadowy campaign finance system to try and catch progressive leaders like Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez off guard.
But they failed. And now, we have an opportunity to get ahead of the curve, prepare for their attacks, and defeat their regressive, anti-working class tactics right here and now.
It’s time to fight back.
Is AOC getting nervous? Probably not; she’s already said she’s not worried about jail time. Even Backer said that’s not in the cards, though a hefty fine could be issued. In all, this all centers on keeping Democrats accountable, especially on their narratives about the so-called evils of dark money and corporate donations. We’ll see how this all pans out.