Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez might be feeling chippy on Twitter, but chances are she’s less enthusiastic about yet another FEC complaint filed Wednesday alleging she was trying to make an end-run around campaign finance laws; or, perhaps a better way to say: she and her campaign manager, Saikat Chakrabarti, are being accused of involvement in what the complaint says looks like a dark money ‘subsidy scheme’.
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.”
In fairness, Backer is fairly relentless in his pursuit of AOC’s campaign finance violations, filing this and one other complaint against her in the past month. He’s also set up his own PACS expressly to stop her march to political power.
Backer’s newest complaint takes issue with Brand New Congress LLC’s admitted policy of charging rates for political consulting services at far below the fair market value for such services. Backer says these services could be considered “in-kind” campaign contributions due to “a series of 1990s-era FEC Advisory Opinions which essentially explained that goods and services provided to political campaigns must be paid for at fair market value.”
Backer also takes exception to the fact that Chakrabarti had a role in the LLC and was either a founder or sat on the board of two political action committees, all while serving as AOC’s campaign manager. Ocasio-Cortez also sat on the board of one of the PACs while she ran her campaign.
Backer is facing a challenge at the FEC, which currently only has four commissioners. He says he plans to sue if his complaints sit longer than 120 days when litigation becomes possible.