The Federal Election Commission (FEC) notified the Justice Democrats, a left-wing political action committee (PAC), that it was under investigation for a series of financial discrepancies.
The Justice Democrats is a PAC that was founded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her current chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti. Both served as board members from the PAC’s conception until Ocasio-Cortez announced her congressional bid.
As IJR previously reported, Chakrabarti’s business dealings and his campaign work have prompted several FEC complaints. He owned Brand New Congress, an LLC and managed Brand New Congress’s PAC. A report from Republican strategist Luke Thompson accused Ocasio-Cortez of paying Chakrabarti’s LLC, who then turned around and cut a check to her boyfriend Riley Roberts via the PAC, as a way of dodging disclosures.
The Coolidge Reagan Foundation, a conservative group, filed an FEC complaint regarding these payments to Roberts.
Following the drama of the boyfriend payments, the National Legal and Policy Center filed an FEC complaint alleging that Chakrabarti was using his LLC and PAC to obscure the flow of money between campaigns. They alleged that more than $1 million in campaign funds was funneled through his LLC, as IJR previously reported.
This FEC complaint prompted further investigation into Chakrabarti’s business entities, including the Justice Democrats. Phil Kerpen, the president of the conservative group American Commitment, found that Chakrabarti was headquartering his entities in Knoxville, Tennessee and accused him of doing so to dodge taxes.
After several complaints were filed outlining the shady dealings of Chakrabarti, the FEC finally opened an investigation into the Justice Democrats.
The letter notes that Justice Democrats issued payments to campaigns for the “retirement of debts” from the 2018 cycle, but the campaigns they paid did not list any debts on their own disclosures. As the commission noted, “a committee may only designate contributions to retire a candidate’s debts if those debts exist.”
The Justice Democrats have until July 4 to respond to the FEC’s inquiry or they could face “further legal action.”
Neither Ocasio-Cortez nor Chakrabarti are still on the board for the Justice Democrats. It remains unclear if the FEC will file a ruling on pending complaints regarding Chakrabarti’s overlapping businesses.