Amid growing controversy over Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s affiliation with the PAC that helped orchestrate her political ascension, the New York Democrat and her chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, were quietly removed from the PAC’s executive board last week.
Earlier this month, former FEC commissioner Hans von Spakovsky — who now works as a Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow — called for a Federal Election Commission investigation into Ocasio-Cortez after it was revealed that she and Chakrabarti remained on the board of the Justice Democrats PAC as of March 2019, despite attorneys for Ocasio-Cortez telling Snopes she was removed from the PAC’s board in June 2018.
According to a now-archived version of Justice Democrats’ website, Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti joined the PAC in December 2017 and retained “legal control over the entity” during the same period it played an integral role in her upset campaign.
Matters became further complicated earlier in March when the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group, filed an FEC ethics complaint alleging Chakrabarti funneled more than $1 million in political donations to two private companies with “the sole purpose of obscuring how the political donations were used” and avoiding campaign finance laws, the Washington Examiner reported.
One of the PACs involved in Chakrabarti’s alleged scheme was Justice Democrats.
According to the Daily Caller, which first reported the development, Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti were quietly removed from the Justice Democrats PAC board on March 15, 2019, documents filed with the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs revealed. Their removal came one day after documents showed they retained governorship of the PAC.
To compound problems, Ocasio-Cortez allegedly never disclosed to the FEC that she had control over Justice Democrats while the PAC simultaneously worked to elect her.
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If the FEC finds that her campaign and the PAC were operating in affiliation, it could result in “massive reporting violations” or potentially even jail time for Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti, former FEC Commissioner Brad Smith previously told TheDCNF. Another former FEC commissioner, Hans von Spakovsky, wrote in a March 10 Fox News op-ed that he believes there’s sufficient evidence to “justify opening a criminal investigation” into Ocasio-Cortez.
“We don’t know what further investigation will find. But it is clear an investigation is needed to determine if Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti broke the law,” Von Spakovsky declared in his Fox News op-ed.