A two year federal probe found that Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s campaign did not “properly” disclose some of its expenses — but the Federal Election Commission voted to give her a pass, according to filings made public this week.
The FEC found that two political action committees — Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats — “did not properly disclose the purpose of the disbursements” to similarly named shell companies set up by AOC’s former chief of staff Chaikat Sakrabarti during her first run for Congress in 2018.
Despite the findings, the FEC’s six-member panel voted to dismiss a government watchdog complaint against the Congresswoman’s campaign last month, the filings released Thursday show.
Last week, the National Legal and Policy Center, which sent its 36-page complaint to the FEC in March, 2019, filed a lawsuit against the federal agency in Washington DC federal court, blasting the investigations panel — made up of three Democrats and three Republicans — for not providing a reason for its dismissal of the complaint. Three Democrats and one Republican voted to dismiss the complaint, filings show.
“The FEC has gone after a whole host of people whose violations are dwarfed by the scale of this scheme,” said Paul Kamenar, NLPC counsel. “It appears to be not prosecutorial discretion, but prosecutorial favoritism.”
The NLPC complaint alleged that AOC campaign treasurer Frank Llewellyn and Sakrabarti, among others, funneled more than $1 million in political donations into two companies controlled by Sakrabarti.
Those cash transfers from two political action committees to Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats may have violated the $5,000 contribution limit to federal candidates, the original complaint alleged.
The FEC waited for more than 30 days to publicly disclose their investigative findings, according to the NLPC, perhaps in an effort to avoid a legal challenge, a spokesman for the NLPC said.
“It was highly irregular for the FEC to release its statement of reasons after the deadline for us to file suit,” said Tom Anderson, director of the NLPC’s Government Integrity Project, adding that the group did not wait for the agency’s findings before filing its legal challenge.
A spokeswoman for AOC did not immediately return a quest for comment Saturday.