Democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has portrayed herself as being an outsider whose goal is to clean up politics in Washington, D.C., yet her actions suggest otherwise.
Under the new “living wage” rules she set for her staff, “Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to cap her office salaries at $80,000 will let her chief of staff and senior employees avoid public transparency laws that would require them to reveal outside income, gifts, and stock trading activity,” the Washington Examiner reported.
Ocasio-Cortez chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti — a wealthy Silicon Valley entrepreneur who recently bought a $1.6 million home in Maryland — would be protected from having to follow the public disclosure laws.
The Examiner noted that a government watchdog group, the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), “said the $80,000 salary cap for Ocasio-Cortez’ senior staffers was concerning because it could be used to intentionally evade financial disclosure laws.”
Tom Anderson, the director of the NLPC’s Government Integrity Project, said: “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.”
The Examiner added that Ocasio-Cortez’s office refused to respond to a request for comment on the issue.
A separate report from the Examiner in mid-February also cast doubt on the authenticity of the image that Ocasio-Cortez is trying to portray of herself.
“[Ocasio-Cortez] recently moved into a luxury apartment complex in Washington, D.C. that does not offer the affordable housing units that were a key plank in the New York congresswoman’s campaign platform,” the Examiner reported.
“The freshman congresswoman, a self-described socialist, campaigned on a platform to expand affordable housing, and her controversial Green New Deal proposal promises ‘Safe, affordable, adequate housing’ for all,” the Examiner continued. “But Ocasio-Cortez’s new building — built by leading D.C. developer WC Smith — is part of a luxury complex whose owners specifically do not offer affordable units under Washington, D.C.’s Affordable Dwelling Units program.”
On Wednesday, Ocasio-Cortez was hit with a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in which the Coolidge Reagan Foundation alleges that the 29-year-old congresswoman may have illegally laundered money to her boyfriend through an allied PAC that was started by Chakrabarti. The Daily Wire reported:
The complaint highlighted a report from earlier in February by Luke Thompson, who “published an article entitled ‘The Congresswoman Loves the Swamp. Her Wealthy Chief of Staff Used a PAC to Pay Her Boyfriend,’ on Medium, which parses FEC records to reveal evidence Ocasio-Cortez funneled money from her official campaign account to her boyfriend, Riley Roberts.”
The complaint added: “The timing and amounts of these transactions, the use of two affiliated entities as intermediaries, the vague and amorphous nature of the services Riley ostensibly provided, the magnitude of these transactions compared to both the limited funds the campaign had raised at the time and the total amount of its expenditures, and the romantic relationship between Ocasio-Cortez and Riley collectively establish reason to believe these transactions may have violated campaign finance law.”