The controversial chief of staff for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who suddenly resigned Friday, is under federal investigation, a new report reveals.
According to the New York Post, the Federal Election Commission is investigating Saikat Chakrabarti for possible campaign finance violations, potentially shedding new light on his sudden departure from Ocasio-Cortez’s office.
The investigation comes after government watchdog group National Legal and Policy Center filed complaints with the FEC in March, alleging Chakrabarti created shell companies to circumvent strict federal guidelines governing PAC finances and disclosure requirements.
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The two PACs being probed, Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats, were both set up by Chakrabarti to support progressive candidates across the country.
But they funneled more than $1 million in political donations into two private companies that Chakrabarti also incorporated and controlled, according to Federal Election Commission filings and a complaint filed in March with the regulatory agency.
In 2016 and 2017, the PACs raised about $3.3 million, mostly from small donors. A third of the cash was transferred to two private companies whose names are similar to one of the PACs — Brand New Congress LLC and Brand New Campaign LLC — federal campaign filings show.
As Fox News noted, the FEC only initiates investigations stemming from complaints filed by outside organizations if there is sufficient evidence to believe a violation occurred.
According to the Post, the investigation includes probing the motive behind salary rules implemented by Ocasio-Cortez’s office. In March, she announced no staff member working in her office would make less than $52,000 or more than $80,000.
By capping Chakrabarti’s salary at $80,000 — despite most congressional chiefs of staff earning more than $140,000 per year — it would have allowed Chakrabarti to avoid requirements mandating he reveal outside income, which are triggered for staff members earning more than $126,000.
Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti were quietly removed from the board of Justice Democrats in March after National Legal and Policy Center filed its complaint.