Three out of four members of “The Squad” are facing ethics and campaign finance violations in just less than one year in office.
We can start with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who actually faces prison time if convicted of her crimes. She owes her election in large part to the Justice Democrats PAC.
There is normally nothing wrong with that as long as there is no coordination between the campaign and the PAC. Therein lies the rub.
Justice Democrats PAC has three board members who vote on where to send money and or assistance, such as campaign volunteers.
Ocasio-Cortez and her former campaign chair Saikat Chakrabarti were appointed to hold two of the PAC’s three board seats almost a full year ahead of the election.
For this and the fact that she never notified the FEC (Federal Elections Commission) of her involvement in the PAC is a serious violation, and if prosecutors deem her actions were done on purpose, she could face criminal charges.
Ilhan Omar is accused of using campaign funds to enrich her boyfriend’s company and that she uses campaign funds to reimburse him for traveling the country with her. She has paid his company about $370,000 so far, and we are still a year out from the election.
Then there is Rashida Tlaib, who illegally paid herself $17,500 from her campaign funds after the 2018 election. Election law allows you to pay yourself a salary during campaigning, but once the campaign ends, all money must stop. In her case it didn’t. She requested checks for $2,000 and $15,500 — and received them.
Another complaint, submitted in March, alleged that Chakrabarti, who served as Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff until August, was running a slush fund during the 2018 midterms by diverting $1 million from Justice Democrats PAC to an LLC under his control.
“It appears Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her associates ran an off-the-books operation to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, thus violating the foundation of all campaign finance laws: transparency,” said National Legal and Policy Center Director Tom Anderson, who filed the complaint.
Anderson, of the National Legal and Policy Center, told the DCNF: “We believe Representative Ilhan Omar may have touched the third rail of campaign finance law: disbursing campaign funds for personal use. It’s a brazen act Representative Omar was caught doing before in Minnesota, and all of the evidence we’ve seen tells us she’s probably doing it again.”
“If Rep. Tlaib converted campaign funds from Rashida Tlaib for Congress to personal use, or if Rep. Tlaib’s campaign committee expended funds that were not attributable to bona fide campaign or political purposes, then Rep. Tlaib may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law,” OCE said.