Ocasio-Cortez Denies Campaign Finance Violation and 'Dark Money' Allegations

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez D-N.Y. listens to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address on Feb. 5 2019

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez D-N.Y. listens to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Feb. 5 2019

The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) Wednesday accusing Ocasio-Cortez, her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti and several other individuals of violating USA election campaign laws.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) waits to hear testimony from Michael Cohen, former attorney and fixer for President Donald Trump before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill February 27, 2019 in Washington, DC.

The right-wing watchdog group alleges that Chakrabarti's LLC funnelled at least $885,735 from Ocasio-Cortez's campaign and two federal political action committees, Brand New Congress PAC and Justice Democrats PAC.

But the Virginia-based National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) filed a complained with the FEC alleging that 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".

Per the NLPC complaint, Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti were wrongly unlisted as controlling the PACs which were reportedly funneling money back into their campaign coffers.

Conservative watchdog group National Legal and Policy Center, which previously had researchers investigating longtime New York Rep. Charles Rangel - a senior lawmaker like the one Ocasio-Cortez knocked off in a primary in her Queens district - named both Ocasio-Cortez and her top aide in the complaint. "So, we were transparent about it from the start".

PACs are required to report names and addresses of all people who paid more than $200 to "meet a candidate or committee operating expense" as well as the goal of the payments.

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And there are a variety of views within the ERG itself, with some leading figures taking a more hardline approach than others. The same also goes for employers in Northern Ireland and captains of industry from Canary Wharf to the retail sector.

Another panelist, Mary Reaman, said Ocasio-Cortez is "asking the right questions".

Federal rules require candidates and committees to disclose in filings with the Federal Election Commission how they spend donors' money. The goal was "to essentially run the full campaigns" and act as a vendor.

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

Some suggested the complaint could indicate hypocrisy from Democrats who have railed against "dark money" in politics. It appears, however, that they underwrote a score of campaign-related events and activities for Ocasio-Cortez and other Congressional candidates.

Brand New Congress formed in 2016, followed by Justice Democrats the following year.

Adav Noti, the senior director of the Campaign Legal Center and a former FEC lawyer, said the arrangement was highly unusual and seemed meant to obscure the destination of the funds.

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