AOC Faces Ethics Questions After Reports Show Her Chief of Staff Cut Checks to Her Boyfriend Using a PAC

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) may have had her current chief of staff pay her boyfriend using campaign PAC money, according to a report from Luke Thompson, a National Review contributor.

Thompson started down the trail of analyzing Ocasio-Cortez’s professional relationship with her boyfriend, Riley Roberts, after realizing that the congresswoman had Roberts listed as a staff member with his own house.gov email account.

As the tweet got more traction, Ocasio-Cortez responded, claiming that it was totally normal for members of the House to give their spouse — or in this case, significant other — an email address so they can see the member’s calendar.

It didn’t take long for Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, to hop online to defend his boss. He tweeted to Thompson that Roberts doesn’t work for the office in any capacity and is not paid. The email account, according to Chakrabarti, is purely for logistical access.

The next day, Thompson took a screenshot that shows Roberts listed as “staff” for Ocasio-Cortez despite their claims otherwise.

It also didn’t take long for Hill staffers — like Jordan Haverly, a communications director for Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) — to pull screenshots from the House IT guidelines showing that spouses, or boyfriends, are not supposed to have official house.gov email accounts.

Fast-forward to Wednesday morning, and Thompson’s quest to find out if Roberts was officially hired by Ocasio-Cortez led him to another potential ethics violation by the Ocasio-Cortez team.

Thompson claims that Ocasio-Cortez worked with her current chief of staff, Chakrabarti, to make two payments totaling $6,000 to Roberts using campaign money from a PAC run by Chakrabarti.

Chakrabarti ran a campaign strategy firm called Brand New Congress, LLC. Under that firm, he had a PAC that he used for the campaigns he assisted. Three payments listed on FEC forms caught the eye of Thompson.

The first payment was from Brand New Congress PAC to Roberts for $3,000. Prior to Ocasio-Cortez’s election, Roberts worked in web design, yet he was paid by Brand New Congress for marketing.

Skip ahead 18 days from the original payment made to Roberts, and Ocasio-Cortez cut a check to Brand New Congress, LLC for $6,191.32.

A month later, Brand New Congress PAC cut another check to Roberts for $3,000. So, in total, Chakrabarti received $6,191.32 from Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign, and within two months, Roberts received $6,000 from Chakrabarti for his work as a “marketing consultant.”

Thompson also noted that it appears they attempted to distance Roberts’ work with the campaign from the additional payments from Chakrabarti’s PAC by listing him under a different address in Arizona.

Thompson also alluded that Chakrabarti got his job in Ocasio-Cortez’s office because of the transaction.

“A rich guy used a PAC to pay [Ocasio-Cortez’s] boyfriend $6,000 when her campaign was running out of money. After AOC won, she gave that rich guy a job in her office,” he tweeted.

Chakrabarti has political success in his own right from managing Brand New Congress and his work with Justice Democrats, so his qualifications seem to go beyond a simple tit-for-tat situation, but Thompson thinks Chakrabarti did more than just hire Roberts.

In his Medium post, Thompson points to the amount of debt racked up by Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign as leverage that could have been used by Chakrabarti, writing:

By the end of 2017 she’d spent $37,249.94 but raised only $8,361.03. That’s a lot of money to stick on a credit card. Since no loans are recorded on her campaign books, presumably either AOC or Roberts was fronting the necessary cash.

It looks to me like Chakrabarti was effectively reimbursing AOC for a third of her expenses with Brand New Congress LLC, perhaps so that she would stay in the race despite her mounting debt.

While both Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti were quick to respond to Thompson’s report about Roberts’ house.gov email, they haven’t responded to his tweets about the payments to Roberts.

UPDATE [2/20/19, 8:50 p.m. ET]: Rep. Ocasio-Cortez responded to the report on Wednesday night by suggesting it was a “conspiracy” on Twitter.

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Screwtape
Member

This is She Guevara’s 2nd ethical lapse, the first being when she threatened to use the power of her office to persecute a private citizen for exercising his 1st amendment rights. (and she hadn’t yet to be sworn in!)

I suspect that the Dims are giving her a pass because of the demographic she represents.

Robert Wayne
Member

She could truly, and believebly claim ignorance on this while deal. She has proven time and time again that she is ignorant on a hist of issues. I still want to know if ahe was accepting salary during the shut down?

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