Ocasio-Cortez Scandal: AOC's Aide Funneling $1M Into Private Accounts, Watchdog Claims

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The National Legal and Policy Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission earlier this week alleging that political action committees established by Ocasio-Cortez's chief-of-staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, funneled over $1 million in contributions to limited liability companies that he established.

In an email to supporters who contributed to her shock midterm victory over veteran Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., team AOC repeated a quote American Israel Public Affairs Committee activist Stephen Fiske gave to The New York Times predicting the future losses for Ocasio-Cortez, and Reps.

Chakrabarti not only ran Brand New Congress LLC, but was also Ocasio-Cortez's campaign manager and sat on the board of Justice Democrats, the group's website indicated as recently as January 8.

Exactly how Chakrabarti and the LLC spent the funds is unknown as AOC's aide did not report the transfers to the FEC, the NLPC says in its complaint. A video last month of Ocasio-Cortez firing off questions about dark money and campaign finance laws to experts during a congressional hearing has been viewed about 40 million times, reportedly making it the most watched political video posted on Twitter.

The group not only raised funds for her, but also "built a phone-banking tool that allowed over 1,000 volunteers to make over 192,000 calls to over 86,000 voters for the Ocasio-Cortez campaign" and "mobilized volunteers to knock on doors, helped build Ocasio-Cortez's digital and communications infrastructure and eventually jumped in to help staff her campaign". Chakrabarti later launched another PAC Justice Democrats to support the effort, which more explicitly focuses on Democratic Party candidates.

An FEC spokesman declined to comment on the complaint on Tuesday. So, we were transparent about it from the start, ' he said.

"When they disclosed a large chunk of the PACs spending through one LLC just as strategic consulting, that is a legitimate warning flag", said Noti, who is now with the Washington-based nonprofit Campaign Legal Center. He did not mention that it would also free candidates from the responsibility of disclosure. Under the agency's rules, for instance, a political committee must provide memos listing all the vendors paid through a campaign credit card, but the agency has not required campaign vendors to detail their payments to other vendors in a similar fashion, he said.

"We're looking for people who are good at what they do", he told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow in a 2016 interview.

For that reason, they set up an LLC that served as the vehicle to pay staff and bill campaigns for services.