New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez abruptly fired her Chief of Staff on Friday amid rumors that the Federal Election Commission is ramping up their investigation officially opened on March 7th to examine complaints against Chakrabarti for violating Federal Election campaign laws.
Chakrabarti’s sudden departure comes as the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is beginning to look seriously into alleged campaign finance violations involving Chakrabarti and Ocasio-Cortez’s two political action groups illegally funneling over $1 million into an LLC that he and the congresswoman controlled during the 2018 midterm elections.
Ocasio-Cortez served on the board of one of Chakrabarti’s PACs, called Justice Democrats, from late 2017 to July 2018, while at the same time supporting her primary campaign, which is against FEC regulations.
To complicate matters further, Ocasio-Cortez never reported her affiliation with the PAC to the FEC.
Chakrabarti exit comes as Ocasio-Cortez further attempts to distance herself from the 33-year-old former software engineer and political activist denouncing his “divisive” comments regarding a June 27th tweet on Wednesday.
The dust-up occurred when Chakrabarti accused moderate Democrats of being “hell-bent to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s.”
His comments took aim at several moderate Democrats who supported the President’s border funding bill, however, didn’t directly address the administration’s handling of migrant children.
When questioned by the New York Daily News, Ocasio-Cortez lambasted Chakrabarti, “I think it was divisive. I believe in criticizing stances, but I don’t believe in specifically targeting members.”
This is actually a departure from her previous stand, openly targeting moderate Democrats in 2020. Nevertheless, the falling out between Ocasio-Cortez and her former Chief of Staff may, in fact, be a well-orchestrated ruse to perhaps have some daylight between themselves and the ongoing FEC investigation.
The congresswoman before the probe became active, dismissed the complaints as a “form of legal trolling” from “fringe, Republican groups.”
However, the original FEC complaint filed by the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group, claiming the Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress PACs, both of which were controlled by Ocasio-Cortez along with Chakrabarti, were engaged in “an elaborate scheme to avoid proper disclosure of campaign expenditures.”
Campaign finance records indicate that the two PACs transferred over $1 million in political donations to private companies controlled by Chakrabarti with names similar to one of the PACs, Brand New Campaign LLC, and Brand New Congress LLC, according to federal election filings.
The probe is also looking into whether the duo violated the $5,000 limit on contributions from federal PACs to candidates, according to the complaint. It is not known if any of that money flowed to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign.
Federal authorities are also looking into a Ponzi like scam regarding new salary rules imposed by Ocasio-Cortez when she took office earlier this year, and whether they were put in place to let Chakrabarti dodge public financial disclosure rules, according to sources.
The scam, if proven raised the salaries of junior staffers in her office to just over $52,000 a year, while Chakrabarti her Chief-of-Staff took a massive pay cut, Chakrabarti a multimillionaire agreed to an annual salary of just $80,000, far below the $146,830 annual salary for someone in his position.
Congressional rules exempted the chief of staff from having to disclose his outside income if his salary is less than $126,000
Federal authorities are now probing Ocasio-Cortez new salary rules imposed by her when she took office earlier this year, and whether they were put in place to let Chakrabarti dodge public financial disclosure rules. Stay tuned.