Ocasio-Cortez hit with Federal Elections Commission complaint over allegations she illegally funneled political PAC money to her own boyfriend
Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the self-described “Democratic Socialist” from New York, hasn’t been sworn into Congress for three months yet and she’s already been hit with a potentially huge ethics allegation. The Coolidge Reagan Foundation filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) on Wednesday claiming that she might have illegally channeled money to her boyfriend through an allied political action committee (PAC). As reported by Fox News, the organization is alleging “in their complaint that when the Brand New Congress PAC (BNC) — a political arm of Brand New Congress LLC, a company that was hired by Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., to run and support her campaign — paid [Riley] Roberts for marketing services, it potentially ran afoul of campaign finance law.” Noted Dan Backer, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who filed the complaint on behalf of the group, in an interview with Fox News, “It’s not illegal for [Ocasio-Cortez] to pay her boyfriend, but it appears that they created some sort of scheme to avoid claiming the money [as a campaign expense. What exactly did he do for that money?” Last week, reports surfaced that the Brand New Congress PAC had paid Roberts as Ocasio-Cortez was launching her campaign in 2017. FEC records show that the PAC made a pair of payments to her boyfriend — one in August 2017 and another the following month, for $3,000 each. The complaint to the FEC cites, in particular, the use of “intermediaries” to make those two payments, “the vague and amorphous nature of the services Riley ostensibly provided,” the fact that the campaign had not raised much money by then, and “the romantic relationship between Ocasio-Cortez and Riley” in alleging that the transactions could, in fact, amount to campaign finance violations. Fox News added: The Coolidge Reagan Foundation — a 501(c)(3) — is requesting that the FEC look into the payments for potential violations on relevant campaign finance laws that state that campaign contributions “shall not be converted by any person to personal use” and that “an authorized committee must report the name and address of each person who has received any disbursement not disclosed.”
One controversy after another — already
In a previous statement, the BNC said that there were no legal issues involving the payments. “[Roberts] is a professional digital marketer and growth consultant who specializes in social media presence and subscriber management,” Zeynab Day, the PAC’s communications director, adding that his hiring was premised “on his experience managing successful advertising and social media campaigns.” “He was hired through a 2 month trial period, beginning on August 3, 2017, and worked through the end of September 2017,” she noted further. “Services to the Brand New Congress PAC consisted of advertising strategies for potential growth, developing metrics, and aiding in execution of strategy to increase brand awareness for the PAC as a whole.” (Related: College students are all supportive of Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” until they learn what’s actually in it.) This is the second incident in less than a month involving Roberts. Earlier this month, Fox News reported Ocasio-Cortez gave Roberts a “house.gov” email address so he could access her official calendar. Critics said that traditionally only actual spouses were given such access. Initially, some people thought that she was ‘settling into Washington’s ways’ quickly by putting him on her staff but she denied that. “From time to time, at the request of members, spouses and partners are provided House email accounts for the purposes of viewing the member’s calendar,” David O’Boyle, a spokesman for the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer told the network. However, former U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) took issue. “It’s totally naïve and inappropriate – you wouldn’t allow it in most companies, let alone the House of Representatives. There should be real consequences,” he said, adding that when he was in the House his scheduler would forward his itinerary to his wife. “You’re not allowed unfettered access,” he added.
Read more about Ocasio-Cortez and her ongoing controversies at CortezWatch.com.