Reports are coming in that Saikat Chakrabarti, the millionaire chief of staff for Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY), may have broken campaign finance laws by shifting moneys illegally to and from the campaign through the three PACs that he founded prior to officially joining the Congress member’s campaign team.
Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign paid Justice Democrats, a Tennessee-based PAC founded by Chakrabarti, a total of $41,108.59 for “campaign services” and “strategic consulting” in 2017 and 2018, Federal Election Commission filings show.
But PACs are not vendors and cannot provide more than $5,000 a year worth of services for any single candidate, according to FEC regulations. If candidates go above this amount, they need to seek advice directly from the FEC.
Brand New Congress, another PAC that Chakrabarti founded to support lefty candidates, paid Ocasio-Cortez’s boyfriend $6,000 in 2017, filings show. The payment to Riley Roberts was made at the same time that Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign paid Brand New Congress LLC $18,880 for “strategic consulting.”
There are good reasons for campaign finance laws to be in place. Sometimes, they seem to be a bit too vague, particularly when it comes to how to handle crossover entities such as PACs that raise money but that also render services. This seems to be one of those cases.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting there was no wrong-doing here. But the circumstances seem to be the type that merely attempt to bend the laws, not break them. As much as I oppose Ocasio-Cortez’s policies and attitude, I’d be lying if I pretended to be aghast at the alleged crimes committed by Chakrabarti.
Nevertheless, the law’s the law and if more legally profound minds than mine come to the conclusion the he’s a bad guy or that the campaign somehow cheated, so be it. I’m just not seeing it as a big deal with my limited understanding.