Published: Tue, March 05, 2019
Science | By Michele Flores

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defends using cars instead of subway after 'hypocrisy' claims

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defends using cars instead of subway after 'hypocrisy' claims

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Saikat Chakrabarti, the progressive firebrand's multimillionaire chief of staff, apparently violated campaign finance law by funneling almost $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. Asked if the complaint shows she was connected to "dark money" during the campaign, Ocasio-Cortez replied, "No, no". The Complaint alleges that Chakrabarti's LLC served as a "cutout", for at least $885,735 received from Ocasio-Cortez's campaign and two federal political action committees, Brand New Congress PAC and Justice Democrats PAC.

Bradley A. Smith, a former chairman of the FEC, said he has never seen such an arrangement.

Chakrabarti's campaigns raised $3.3 million and diverted more than $1 million to his companies, the Washington Examiner reported.

Chakrabarti did not return a request for comment. We were doing something totally new, which meant a new setup.

A separate explanation posted by Justice Democrats, one of the political action committees, a year ago cast the arrangement as above-board. Her office's fact sheet on the plan, released last month, says that efforts to combat climate change should include "massively expanding electric vehicle manufacturing, build charging stations everywhere, build out high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary [and] create affordable public transit available to all, with the goal to replace every combustion-engine vehicle".

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The National Legal and Policy Center's complaint called Chakrabarti's PAC management "an elaborate scheme to avoid proper disclosure of campaign expenditures".

Ocasio-Cortez's campaign also paid the LLC for 'strategic consulting'. "And the FEC and the other regulators need to get in there and find out where was this money going - was it going to people's pockets?" He stated that one of the campaign's priorities is to "get rid of the influence of money in politics".

"It appears Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her associates ran an off-the-books operation to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, thus violating the foundation of all campaign finance laws: transparency", said Tom Anderson, director of the National Legal and Policy Center's Government Integrity Project.

"This is the very thing that hides a lot of money", Chaffetz said of the arrangement outlined in the complaint. A separate group filed an FEC complaint about the payments to AOC's boyfriend.

We'll have to wait and see what the FEC makes of these complaints.

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