A recent fundraising attempt by Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have some questioning whether or not the congresswoman may have violated campaign finance laws.
— Double D (@my3dav) April 28, 2019
— Cory Shields (@coryshields) April 28, 2019
After some 400 runners paid thirty dollars to register for a 5k run on Saturday, which Ocasio-Cortez touted as an event to support her recent “Green New Deal,” many were surprised to learn the fee was actually in collected for her personal campaign.
In April, AOC and her campaign manager, Saikat Chakrabarti, were accused of being involved in a dark money ‘subsidy scheme’.
The complaint named Ocasio-Cortez, Chakrabarti (now her chief of staff), the Justice Democrats PAC, the Brand New Congress PAC and Brand New Congress LLC as the overlapping entities that aimed to “subsidize cheap assistance for Ocasio-Cortez and other candidates at rates far below market value.”
The crux of the complaint, which was given exclusively to Fox News in advance of its filing Wednesday, accused Ocasio-Cortez and her campaign manager, Saikat Chakrabarti, of overseeing a “shadowy web” of political action committees (PACs) that allowed them to raise more cash than they could have legally. It also alleged that a limited liability company (LLC) was created to avoid federal expenditure requirements by offering Ocasio-Cortez and other Democratic candidates political consulting services at a price so low that the company apparently shut down before the election was even over.
At the center of the complaint is Brand New Congress LLC, a now-defunct company owned by Chakrabarti that aimed to recruit up to 400 candidates for national office and “fully run all of their campaigns,” according to a post on the Justice Democrats PAC website.
“Chakrabarti was trying to create the Uber for politics,” said Dan Backer, the conservative attorney behind the complaint. “Uber functions because of a massive subsidy from venture capital. Here, it’s subsidized by these PACs to deliver a valuable service that people need and want, but can’t be delivered at the real cost of it.”
From The New York Post:
Her new deal is all about the green, alright.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez held a 5k in Queens Saturday that she billed as “a Family Fun Run supporting U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal on the Saturday following Earth Day.”
But many of the 400 runners didn’t realize their $30 registration fees were going directly into the lawmaker’s campaign coffers.
“We’re getting together for our own health, for our planet’s health … and to fight for the Green New Deal together,” the freshman Democrat told the participants before they set off.
Environmentally conscious supporters — who jogged through Astoria Park alongside a beaming, strolling AOC — believed their money was going to help save the planet.
“It’s going to help raise awareness and educate people,” a female runner told The Post.
“I think it’s really for this particular New Green Deal,” said Brian Schwartz of Long Island. “No question.”
“It’s to help the environment. To support the Green New Deal,” another woman said. “It’s a good cause.”
A vaguely worded notices on AOC’s Facebook page — saying that the run would support “U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez & the Green New Deal” — worsened the confusion.
But the fine print on a third event-related website revealed the truth.
“Registration fees are contributions to AOC for Congress,” reads the legal disclosure on aoc5k.com, which lists the Federal Election Commission rules that donors must follow.
“It was a campaign fundraiser,” Ocasio-Cortez spokesman Corbin Trent confirmed.
The participants paid more than $11,000 all told.
Even kids as young as 3 became unknowing political donors — ponying up $20 fees to join a kids’ 1k.
But by fudging the fact that those fees were actually campaign contributions, AOC may have enticed constituents into inadvertently breaking federal election laws.
Parents, for example, can’t contribute their own funds in a child’s name.
The amount raised is a drop in the bucket for AOC, whose superstar status and combative Twitter feed vaulted her into the fundraising stratosphere in the first quarter of this year, when she raised $726,000 through online solicitations.
But only 4 percent of that total came from constituents in her own district.
At Saturday’s event, 198 runners came from the Bronx and from Queens neighborhoods within the 14th congressional district. The other 200 came from elsewhere.
Those contributions will improve her home-grown fundraising share.
Some participants felt fooled.
“The site says it’s to benefit her environmental plan,” said one supporter who would not give his name. “If it is going to go directly to her campaign they should have said so.”