On Friday, controversial U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti abruptly resigned. Some speculated that finally some of AOC’s staff were fed up with the Congresswoman’s antics or her bad management. Others speculated Ocasio-Cortez forced Chakrabarti to resign to make amends with her party over the division Chakrabarti created between AOC and her party.
But it seems the real reason Chakrabarti resigned was because the feds are investigating him for possible campaign finance violations in the 2016 election of Ocasio-Cortez.
The probe revolves around two political action committees, PACs, Chakrabarti founded, Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress. Ocasio-Cortez’s former chief of staff supposedly created them to support progressive candidates across America.
However, according to Federal Election Commission, FEC, documents and a complaint filed with the regulatory agency in March of this year, the PACs diverted in excess of $1 million in political contributions into two private companies Chakrabarti also controlled and incorporated.
In 2016 and 2017, Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress raised roughly $3.3 million. Most of the funds originated from small donors. Approximately a third of the money was re-routed to the two private companies. The names of these entities, Brand New Congress LLC and Brand New Campaign LLC, are strikingly similar to the name of one of the PACs.
The New York Post reported that PACs are required to follow strict federal rules concerning disclosure of fundraising and spending. Private companies aren’t held to the same standard.
A government watchdog organization based in Virginia, the National Legal and Policy Center, filed the complaint against Chakrabarti earlier this year. The National Legal and Policy Center contended that the two private companies seemed to have been created for the purpose of eluding those federal reporting regulations.
Fox News noted that, according to the FEC, complaints only turn into investigations when enough evidence exists for them to suspect a violation might have occurred.
The New York Post revealed, “In March, when the FEC complaints were filed, a lawyer for the PACs, the LLCs and the Ocasio-Cortez campaign told the Washington Post that the arrangement ‘fully complied with the law and the highest ethical standards’ and that Chakrabarti never profited from any of the political entities he formed.”
The media outlet also noted, “They may also have violated the $5,000 limit on contributions from federal PACs to candidates, according to the complaint.” However, it’s unclear if any of this money found its way to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign.
According to the New York Post, “Federal authorities are looking at new salary rules imposed by Ocasio-Cortez when she took office earlier this year, and whether they were put in place to let Chakrabarti dodge public financial disclosure rules, according to sources.”
Interestingly, the liberal Congresswoman increased the salaries of the junior staffers in her office to a little over $52,000 annually. But, Chakrabarti received a huge pay cut.
The former chief of staff, Harvard graduate, and tech millionaire signed on to a salary of $80,000. The average pay for his former position is $146,830. Intriguingly, due to his salary being less than $126,000, congressional regulations exempted him from being required to disclose outside income.
Earlier this year, Chakrabarti created a firestorm after alleging Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was a weak leader and commenting that moderate Democrats were racists determined “to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s.”
On July 6, Ocasio-Cortez’s former chief of staff tweeted, “Pelosi claims we can’t focus on impeachment because it’s a distraction from kitchen table issues. What is this legislative mastermind doing?”
TheBlaze reported that Pelosi reprimanded the progressive members of her party during a closed door meeting about the remarks. She allegedly said, “Do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that is OK.” Commenting on Twitter, Chakrabarti stated, “Our Democracy is literally falling apart. I’m not interested in substance-less Twitter spats.”
Amazingly, during an interview, Ocasio-Cortez’s former chief of staff admitted the much-maligned Green New Deal was developed to overhaul the economy rather than remedy climate change. Chakrabarti maintained, “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all. Do you guys think of it as a climate thing? Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”
Besides Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez also lost another member of her staff on Friday. Corbin Trent, the Congresswoman’s communications director, resigned too. But, she reportedly left her position in order to work on Ocasio-Cortez’s re-election campaign. In a statement, Trent insisted, “Saikat has decided to leave the office of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez to work with New Consensus to further develop plans for a Green New Deal.”
It remains to be seen whether the federal investigation of Chakrabarti will lead to legal trouble for Ocasio-Cortez. But, it will be interesting to see how the far-left Congresswoman moves forward without her wealthy puppet master guiding her.