New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff resigned Friday and The New York Post reports that he faces a campaign finance investigation after he reportedly funneled PAC money to private companies he controlled.
Ocasio-Cortez’s Chief of Staff Saikat Chakrabarti resigned Friday, along with her communications director, Corbin Trent, The Intercept reported. Chakrabarti will now head the New Consensus, a nonprofit aimed at promoting the Green New Deal, while Trent will serve as a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez’s re-election campaign.
Chakrabarti, a progressive activist who helped AOC pull off a shocking upset in her 2018 Democratic primary race, ruffled feathers on Capitol Hill by criticizing centrist Democrats.
“People were not happy that he used his Twitter account to comment about members and the bills that he and his boss oppose,” a senior House Democratic staffer told The New York Post. “There was a series of colliding and cascading grievances.”
Chakrabarti faces federal probe:
Federal investigators are looking into possible campaign finance violations by Chakrabarti, The Post reported.
The PACs Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats, which Chakrabarti created to help progressive candidates, funneled more than $1 million into private companies he controlled, according to FEC filings. The $1 million represented nearly a third of all the money the two PACs had raised.
“While PACs must follow stringent federal rules on disclosure of spending and fundraising, private companies are not subject to the same transparency,” The Post reported. “The complaint filed by the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group based in Virginia, alleged that the LLCs appeared to have been set up to obscure those federal reporting requirements.”
An attorney for the PACs and Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign told The Washington Post in March that Chakrabarti never profited from the funds and that the moves “fully complied with the law and the highest ethical standards.”
According to The New York Post, investigators are also looking at whether AOC gave Chakrabarti a lower salary -- $80,000 per year compared to more than $146,000 per year for the average congressional chief of staff -- to avoid hitting the $126,000 salary threshold that would have required him to disclose his outside income.