The woman who spends her time lecturing on corruption has more spending corruption issues of her own.
In amazing fashion the stories surrounding the campaign financials of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez not only are taking on a deepening relevance, they may also be expanding in scope. In the past few weeks we have learned of a mounting number of questions surrounding the money spent by her office, the firewalls between her campaign and PACs being breached, and her Chief of Staff possibly redirecting funds from multiple campaigns to his LLC.
Now a new spending issue has arisen, this one regarding her spokesperson possibly receiving duplicate payments from her campaign, and the PAC associated with her, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. It becomes yet another questionable funding issue for the politician who has loudly railed against financial issues in politics.
The list of numerous issues and questions regarding AOC’s campaign financials is notable, some of which I covered yesterday, and these are not trivial partisan ledger errors being highlighted. The actions cited are serious FEC violations with some serious legal reprisals.
The newest revelation is that Corbin Trent, Communications Director for Ocasio-Cortez in D.C. was the recipient of cross-payments between the campaign and a PAC. He was originally part of the leadership of Justice Democrats, the PAC that helped push AOC to victory (it is currently being used to leverage Democrats in Congress who are not adhering to progressive agenda items.) As Trent transitioned to the AOC campaign as her spokesman he continued to receive regular payments from Justice Democrats PAC, right up until a few weeks prior to the election.
This would continue to expand the list of examples that there was not the mandated separation between the campaign and the PAC, as required by campaign finance laws. Other possible violations of this nature include her boyfriend Riley Roberts working for the campaign but paid through the outside entities, her campaign sharing the same address as Justice Democrats, and she and her Chief of Staff Saikat Chakrabarti being currently listed as governors of the PAC.
Chakrabarti is also being looked at due to noted transfer of payments from Justice Democrats PAC and Brand New Congress PAC to his private entities Brand New Congress LLC and Brand New Campaign LLC. What has also been noted is that Chakrabarti is being paid far less than the average amount for a COS in the House.
Ocasio-Cortez has made a loud announcement how her lowest paid staffers will make a higher living wage, and the highest paid are given a ceiling of $80,000. However many are now stating this could be more of a legal gambit. The average salary on the Hill for a COS is $145k, but Chakrabarti is drawing a figure well below the $126k threshold where a public employee needs to disclose any additional incomes.
The National Legal and Policy Center has noted this salary discrepancy, with Tom Anderson, NLPC’s Government Integrity Project Director, saying, “Purposefully underpaying staffers in order to avoid transparency is an old trick some of the most corrupt members of Congress have used time and again.”