Conservative group alleges PACs established by Ocasio-Cortez aide failed to disclose spending

Greg Nash

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) office is under scrutiny after a complaint filed with the Federal Election Committee (FEC) alleged groups with ties to her chief of staff failed to properly disclose payments.

The freshman congresswoman denied to Fox News on Tuesday that any violation took place after the National Legal and Policy Center, a Virginia-based conservative watchdog group, filed a complaint with the FEC a day earlier alleging Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, “orchestrated an extensive operation to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign spending during the 2018 campaign.”

{mosads}Asked if the complaint shows she was connected to “dark money” during the campaign, Ocasio-Cortez told Fox News, “No, no.” She has fervently spoken out against dark money in politics.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that documents show Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign paid a corporation owned by Chakrabarti almost $19,000 in 2017, a year before he worked as a volunteer on the campaign.

The Post reported that the same corporation, Brand New Congress LLC, received roughly $1 million in 2016 and 2017 from two political action committees Chakrabarti helped create in an effort to elect progressive candidates: Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress.

The arrangement obscured who ultimately profited from the payments, the Post reported, prompting allegations of hypocrisy and intense attention from conservative commentators.

Conservative outlets like Breitbart and the Washington Examiner first reported on the payments.

Chakrabarti defended the setup of the PACs in a tweet earlier this week, saying he explained in a 2016 interview how the operation’s involvement with Brand New Congress worked.

David Mitrani, an attorney for the PACs, the LLC and Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign, said in a statement that all four groups “fully complied with the law and the highest ethical standards” and that Chakrabarti never received any salary or profit from the organizations.

He added that the PACs did not disclose information about who ultimately received the money because FEC regulations did not require it.

The Post reported it was unclear whether Ocasio-Cortez knew of the payments to Chakrabarti’s corporation.

Ocasio-Cortez stunned the political world last year when she defeated longtime Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.) in a primary. She later became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

She has since remained a fixture in the media and on Capitol Hill thanks to her prominent social media presence and support of progressive ideas like the “Green New Deal” and a significantly higher tax rate on the wealthiest Americans.

–This report was updated at 10:17 a.m.

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