Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has launched a smear campaign against the individual who first drew attention to questionable financial transactions between her supporting political action committees and private companies owned by her chief of staff. This is an obvious ploy to delegitimize the ethics complaints filed against her own office and her campaign.
It’s a perfectly Trumpian act of deflection.
This story begins with the Intercept reporting this week that the Federal Election Committee has leveled a $390,000 fine against the super PAC Right to Rise USA, which backed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the 2016 GOP presidential primary, for accepting a $1.3 million campaign donation from a company controlled by two Chinese citizens. Right to Rise formerly employed Luke Thompson, who is one of the first people to ask questions about ethically dubious financial transactions between PACs and private companies co-founded by Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti.
Thompson found, for example, that the congresswoman’s campaign made payments in 2018 to Brand New Congress LLC for “strategic consulting.” Brand New Congress PAC then made payouts to Ocasio-Cortez’s boyfriend, Riley Roberts, who is billed as a “marketing consultant.” Both the LLC and the PAC were co-founded by Chakrabarti, who served as her campaign chairman.
Since that time, Ocasio-Cortez has been hit with three ethics complaints, two alleging misuse of congressional funds and one alleging Chakrabarti oversees a glorified slush fund shielded from federal reporting requirements.
This is where the congresswoman’s fact-free attack comes into play.
Whoah: the creepy org filing bogus ethics complaints against me just *actually* got hit with one of the biggest fines in FEC history.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 12, 2019
It’s obvious Ocasio-Cortez’s team is looking to distract from their own ethics complaints by delegitimizing one of the first individuals to ask questions about Chakrabarti’s accounting methods. But they could at least get some of the main facts correct.
First, Right to Rise has not filed any ethics complaints against Ocasio-Cortez. The groups that have filed are the Coolidge-Reagan Foundation, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, and the National Legal and Policy Center.
Secondly, Thompson doesn’t work for any of the groups that filed complaints against her.
Lastly, there’s no evidence Thompson was ever involved in Right to Rise accepting the $1.3 million donation that resulted in its fine, or that he even knew anything about it.
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