Nets Turn a Blind Eye to Alleged Campaign Finance Violations by Ocasio-Cortez

In 24 hours, NONE of the flagship morning and evening news programs for the Big Three broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC), and Spanish-language networks Telemundo and Univision, saw fit to inform viewers that liberal darling, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was facing serious accusations of campaign finance violations. If true, those allegations carried possible jail time.

The formal complaint to the Federal Election Commission by the conservative National Legal and Policy Center was filed on Monday with several news organizations reporting on it. But come Tuesday evening, ABC, CBS, and NBC had yet to allow the developments to be shared on their principal morning and evening news programs (ABC’s Good Morning America, World News Tonight; CBS’s This Morning, Evening News; NBC’s Today, Nightly News).

But unlike those liberal networks, Fox News Channel wasn’t doing the Democrat any favors. On Tuesday, Special Report anchor Bret Baier announced: “Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez is also facing severe consequences concerning allegations her chief of staff funneled nearly $1 million in donations into private companies he controlled.

The report, delivered by Fox News correspondent Doug McKelway, laid out the alleged plot to circumvent limits on campaign contributions:

The alleged violation is laid out in a complaint to the FEC by the conservative nonprofit National Legal and Policy Center. It states the Congresswoman, her chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, and others, quote, “orchestrated an extensive off-the-books operation” through two political action committees Brand New Congress LLC and Justice Democrats PAC. Three years ago, Chakrabarti, then a staffer for Bernie Sanders, explained his hopes for this new PAC model to bundle small contributions into a kind of one-stop shopping for more than ten progressive candidates inexperienced in fund-raising.

 

 

He added: “But the complaint alleges Chakrabarti transferred $885,000 from the two PACs to a third company, which is exempt for reporting expenditures. The complaint says, quote, ‘the actual vendors, staff, and fundraising expenses were not disclosed. Brand New Congress LLC is simply a cut out.’

According to reporting by The Daily Caller News Foundation on Monday, “Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti obtained majority control of Justice Democrats PAC in December 2017,” and “Ocasio-Cortez never disclosed to the FEC that she and Chakrabarti, who served as her campaign chair, controlled the PAC while it was simultaneously supporting her primary campaign…”

Former FEC commissioner Brad Smith warned TheDCNF that, “[i]f this were determined to be knowing and willful,” Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti “could be facing jail time” with a maximum of five years in prison.

“The admission makes it open and shut if someone wants to file a complaint with the FEC. I don’t see how the FEC could not investigate that. We’ve even got their own statement on their website that they control the organization. I don’t see how you could avoid an investigation on that,” Smith told TheDCNF.

And this wasn’t the first time the major broadcast networks ignored an allegation of campaign finance violations against Ocasio-Cortez. In late February, they found zero interest in a report by Luke Thompson exposing how the Congresswoman used PAC money to pay her boyfriend tens of thousands of dollars. The PACs that were used to pay her boyfriend were the same organizations in question now.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

Fox News Channel’s Special Report
March 5, 2019
6:23:50 p.m. Eastern [2 minutes 14 seconds]

BRET BAIER: Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez is also facing severe consequences concerning allegations her chief of staff funneled nearly $1 million in donations into private companies he controlled. Correspondence Doug McKelway has those specifics tonight.

[Cuts to video]

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: There’s no violation.

DOUG McKELWAY: Returning to Washington this morning, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez denied violating campaign finance laws. The alleged violation is laid out in a complaint to the FEC by the conservative nonprofit National Legal and Policy Center. It states the Congresswoman, her chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, and others, quote, “orchestrated an extensive off-the-books operation” through two political action committees Band New Congress LLC and Justice Democrats PAC. Three years ago, Chakrabarti, then a staffer for Bernie Sanders, explained his hopes for this new PAC model to bundle small contributions into a kind of one-stop shopping for more than ten progressive candidates inexperienced in fund-raising.

SAIKAT CHAKRABARTI: We’re really trying to find people who aren't career politicians and part of the advantage of having this, sort of, unified campaign were the campaign infrastructure and fund-raising is set aside from the candidates is we can actually get working people to run without them having to focus on fund-raising.

McKELWAY: But the complaint alleges Chakrabarti transferred $885,000 from the two PACs to a third company, which is exempt for reporting expenditures. The complaint says, quote, “the actual vendors, staff, and fundraising expenses were not disclosed. Brand New Congress LLC is simply a cut out.

HANS VON SPAKOVSKY: Anyone who contributed the maximum amount to her actual campaign organization and then contributed an additional amount to the political action committee, it means that she accepted contributions in excess of the limits. Not only that, but she didn't report those to the FEC.

JASON CHAFFETZ: This is about as serious of an allegation as it gets, it includes fines and going to jail if it was all true and found guilty.

[Cuts back to live]

McKELWAY: There may be another benign explanation for all this, her first two months in office have shown Ocasio-Cortez and her staff to be idealistic but naive. This FEC complaint may inject a heavy dose of hard learned experience about campaign finance law. Brett.

BAIER: Doug, thank you.

NBDaily MRC Latino Campaigns & Elections 2018 Congressional Bias by Omission Double Standards Political Groups Liberals & Democrats Political Scandals Broadcast Television ABC Good Morning America World News Tonight CBS CBS Evening News CBS This Morning NBC NBC Nightly News Today Cable Television Fox News Channel Special Report Video Bret Baier Doug McKelway Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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