AOC’s CoS Comes Under More Scrutiny After Putting Campaign Management HQ in Income Tax-Free Tennessee

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

According to one analyst, Saikat Chakrabarti, the chief of staff for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), may have set his business headquarters in Tennessee to avoid high taxes in places like New York City and Washington, D.C.

Chakrabarti ran a company called Brand New Congress, LLC through which he managed campaigns, including that of Ocasio-Cortez. He was also on the board for Justice Democrats, a left-leaning activist group that was involved in several campaigns. According to documents obtained by the Daily Caller, Ocasio-Cortez was on the board as well.

Phil Kerpen, the president of the conservative group American Commitment, analyzed the business registrations for Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats’ PAC and found that they were both headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee. The address of these two operations was the same address as several campaign headquarters, including races in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Illinois.

It was also listed as the address for the campaign headquarters of Ocasio-Cortez.

As IJR previously reported, Chakrabarti’s use of his LLC has been called into question after a conservative group filed an FEC complaint alleging that he was using the LLC to obscure the transfer of funds between campaigns and PACs. According to the complaint, nearly $1 million was transferred between the LLC and the PACs.

“It appears Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her associates ran an off-the-books operation to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, thus violating the foundation of all campaign finance laws: transparency,” Tom Anderson, the director of the National Legal and Policy Center’s Government Integrity Project, which filed the FEC complaint, told the Washington Examiner.

In his own investigation, Kerpen wondered if Chakrabarti may have chosen to file taxes in states like Tennessee and Arkansas to dodge the high-tax, Democrat-controlled states he was operating in, like New York:

As Kerpen noted in his tweets, Chakrabarti was not registered to conduct business in Tennessee despite using it for his headquarters. He also claimed that it doesn’t appear as though Brand New Congress actually operates in Tennessee in any capacity:

“I just love that the socialists consolidated their back-office employees for all these campaigns in a non-income tax state,” Kerpen wrote.

Because Ocasio-Cortez appeared to be on the board for Justice Democrats PAC as it contributed to and worked on behalf of her campaign, Kerpen claimed Ocasio-Cortez may have an “illegal coordination problem,” as well as the issues of failing to report to the FEC:

Several popular right-leaning figures took to Twitter to share Kerpen’s findings, calling on Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti to explain the situation:

Although Chakrabarti has not responded directly to the points highlighted by Kerpen, he has denied that Brand New Congress or Justice Democrats acted in a shady fashion. He has called the companies “transparent,” “super transparent,” and “extremely transparent”:

As IJR previously reported, this spiral into the dealings of Chakrabarti and Ocasio-Cortez started with a report from Luke Thompson, a Republican strategist, who found that Ocasio-Cortez gave her boyfriend, Riley Roberts, an official House email account and had Chakrabarti’s PAC pay him during the campaign.

Chakrabarti also drew some questions after Ocasio-Cortez announced that he would be paid $80,000 as chief of staff, almost half as much as the average chief makes. Some believe he accepted a low salary because he remains below the threshold of having to publicly disclose his finances. All public employees paid over $126,000 must disclose their finances.

Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti currently have two outstanding FEC complaints, one for the payment to Roberts and the other for the financial exchanges between the PAC and the LLC.


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