WATCH: Look who Ocasio-Cortez blames for her growing ‘unfavorability’
Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) must be setting a record for collecting complaints within the shortest period of time in office.
She’s already had at least three prior complaints filed that are known of and now she’s been slapped with another one.
From Fox News:
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has been hit with another Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint, this one alleging she and her campaign manager operated a “subsidy scheme” that ran afoul of campaign finance laws.
The crux of the complaint, which was given exclusively to Fox News in advance of its filing Wednesday, accused Ocasio-Cortez and her campaign manager, Saikat Chakrabarti, of overseeing a “shadowy web” of political action committees (PACs) that allowed them to raise more cash than they could have legally. It also alleged that a limited liability company (LLC) was created to avoid federal expenditure requirements by offering Ocasio-Cortez and other Democratic candidates political consulting services at a price so low that the company apparently shut down before the election was even over.
The complaint named Ocasio-Cortez, Chakrabarti (now her chief of staff), the Justice Democrats PAC, the Brand New Congress PAC and Brand New Congress LLC as the overlapping entities that aimed to “subsidize cheap assistance for Ocasio-Cortez and other candidates at rates far below market value.”
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They were essentially trying to market themselves like Uber, the company Ocasio-Cortez has criticized for undercutting yellow cabs in New York City (although she and her team still used Uber).
At the center of the complaint is Brand New Congress LLC, a now-defunct company owned by Chakrabarti that aimed to recruit up to 400 candidates for national office and “fully run all of their campaigns,” according to a post on the Justice Democrats PAC website.
“Chakrabarti was trying to create the Uber for politics,” said Dan Backer, the conservative attorney behind the complaint. “Uber functions because of a massive subsidy from venture capital. Here, it’s subsidized by these PACs to deliver a valuable service that people need and want, but can’t be delivered at the real cost of it.”
What’s the problem with the arrangement?
Backer said Brand New Congress LLC was guilty of providing campaign contributions known as “in-kind” expenditures by only charging candidates for a portion of the total cost of the service. Essentially, Backer claimed the company operated at a loss to provide its approved candidates with campaign services on the cheap.
This was a problem, he said, because of a series of 1990s-era FEC Advisory Opinions which essentially explained that goods and services provided to political campaigns must be paid for at fair market value – otherwise they could be considered in-kind contributions.
It was unclear what Chakrabarti and Brand New Congress charged for their services — and Backer said this was another part of the problem. He said the private company wouldn’t be subject to the same disclosure and transparency laws that PACs are.
The Justice Democrats already dug themselves a hole by acknowledging in a blog post that their aim was not to make a profit but to provide services as low as possible.
The other problem behind the arrangement was that Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti had leadership roles in the organizations like the Justice Democrats while also being in charge of her campaign.
And Chakrabarti was “on all sides of the scheme,” said Backer, because he owned Brand New Congress LLC, sat on the board of the Justice Democrats PAC and co-founded the Brand New Congress PAC—all while serving as Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign manager.
It’s not clear however that the FEC will be able to address the complain with any due speed as they only have four commissioners out of their usual six.
Backer said if they don’t move on it in 120 days he will sue to push the question. “At the end of the day,” Backer observed, “It would be wonderful if the FEC would get off its dysfunctional ass and rule on these things.”
Not so good for a candidate who claims to be against ‘dark money.’