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.
The probe focuses on two political action committees started by Saikat Chakrabarti, concerns about which were first reported by the Washington Examiner in March. Chakrabarti left his post as chief of staff for Ocasio-Cortez along with communications director Corbin Trent, who is departing for the freshman congresswoman’s 2020 reelection campaign.
Chakrabarti stirred up plenty of controversy during his tenure as the creative mind behind Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign and strategist for the Green New Deal. He has sent out numerous tweets that started a clash between Ocasio-Cortez and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and many staffers and aides on Capitol Hill were not thrilled about his divisive behavior.
“People were not happy that he used his Twitter account to comment about members and the bills that he and his boss oppose,” a senior House Democratic staffer told the New York Post. “There was a series of colliding and cascading grievances.”
Chakrabarti also indicated that Pelosi was a weak leader in a series of tweets, and said in a now-deleted post that moderate Democrats were “hell-bent to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s.”
Chakrabarti, who graduated from Harvard and made millions in the tech industry, founded two PACs — Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats — to rally behind liberal candidates in elections. However, Federal Election Commission filings showed he siphoned more than $1 million in political contributions into two private firms that he also owned.
Both PACs raised about $3.3 million in mostly small-dollar donations in 2016 and 2017. FEC filings revealed that about one-third of the money was allocated to two private businesses with names nearly identical to the PACs, Brand New Congress LLC and Brand New Campaign LLC.
Chakrabarti also took a slash in his salary at $80,000 a year while Ocasio-Cortez increased the salaries of junior staffers to about $52,000 annually. The average salary for Chakrabarti’s position pays $146,830 a year. This means that under Congressional rules he did not have to release his outside income because he made less than $126,000 as chief of staff.