In her short political career thus far, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has made a name for herself as the Representative with a perpetual foot in her mouth. It’s rare that she can get through an interview — or even a tweet — without saying something radical, embarrassing and devastating to her credibility.
We now know that this problem isn’t limited to direct communication. She’s just an embarrassment all around, and the way she has handled her campaign and staffing her office, it’s clear that even her attempts at traditional nepotism and corruption are below the bar for Washington.
Following the Money
Political corruption is rarely opaque and clear. As much as we might criticize the intelligence of some of our leadership, they tend to put a sincere effort into hiding the things they do wrong. That’s especially true with money. It took years for people to uncover the connections between the Clintons and Uranium One, and that’s just one example.
Unfortunately for AOC, she’s clearly less intelligent than average. She seems to have tried her best, but after a little more than a month in office, her first cases of unethical finance have already been revealed. There are still facts that need to come to light, but when you follow the money, you’ll see that she is shady at best.
This all tracks back to Brand New Congress. It’s a PAC that heavily supported AOC throughout her campaign. They probably would have done more, but regulations limit how much any one PAC can give to a candidate. That’s why it’s so suspicious that they paid $6,000 to AOC’s boyfriend, Riley Roberts. That sum was achieved in two payments of $3,000. They claim it was for marketing services that he provided to the PAC, and alone, it wouldn’t be so suspicious.
Things turn darker when you see that three weeks after Roberts was paid, AOC’s campaign gave $6,191.32 to Brand New Congress. Typically, PACs donate to campaigns, not the other way around.
For the sake of honesty, we need to address that all of this is in the allegation stage. The money definitely changed hands, but it has not yet been proven that AOC broke the law. Regardless, here’s why this strange, circular exchange matters. There are two possible violations that happened.
One possibility is that AOC channeled money through the PAC in order to put campaign donation money in the pocket of her boyfriend. That would explain why she essentially reimbursed Brand New Congress for the money they gave to him. It even looks like a little interest was included.
The other possibility is that the PAC was trying to funnel extra money into AOC’s campaign. Since they can’t give more than $5,000 to a candidate directly, this would have been a means to circumvent that violation. The reimbursement could have been an attempt to cover the excessive donation after the fact. When you read the next part, the nepotism explanation will seem more likely.
Getting Even Fishier
AOC took heat for more than a potential campaign finance violation. It was also discovered that Riley Roberts is on her Congressional staff. That’s clear nepotism, and it’s not allowed. Spouses are permitted to volunteer in the offices of Representatives, but Roberts is neither AOC’s spouse nor a volunteer. Officially, she refuses to employ volunteers. Everyone in her office has to receive a ‘living wage’ after all.
We’re still not done. AOC’s staff also includes Aikat Chakrabarti, the founder of Brand New Congress. It looks very much like a wealthy person moved money around for a candidate and was then rewarded with a position in her office. That’s three strikes.
The full nature of this scandal has yet to become public knowledge, but it’s fishy enough to gather attention. The truth won’t stay hidden for long. Whatever details emerge, the one thing we can trust is that AOC is another run-of-the-mill corrupt politician. She’s ok with playing money games for personal gain, and she clearly hasn’t shown herself immune to the influence of campaign contributors.
The real question is how her fervent supporters will try to spin all of this to make it ok. It will be hypocritical nonsense, but if they’re sticking by her after the myriad of stupid things she’s said, corruption won’t dissuade them.