Justice Democrats, a far-left political group associated with the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wing of the Democratic Party, has quietly formed a super PAC.
The move opens the big-money floodgates for a group that routinely lambasts the "power of large corporations, billionaires, and wealthy campaign contributions in our democracy." Natalie Trent, treasurer of the Justice Democrats PAC, informed the Federal Election Commission on May 1 that the group is creating a new account that is able to collect unlimited contributions from corporations and labor groups.
The new super PAC will operate alongside Justice Democrats PAC, a traditional PAC. But while the latter cannot collect donations in excess of $5,000 per election cycle, the new super PAC is free to collect unlimited sums from big-money donors, which runs counter to Justice Democrats' political platform and founding principles. The group has called for public financing of elections and the "removal of the corrupting influence of corporate and big money in our democracy."
"This committee intends to establish a second bank account to deposit and withdraw funds raised in unlimited amounts from individuals, corporations, labor organizations, and/or political committees," Trent wrote in a letter to the FEC. "The funds maintained in this account will not be used to make contributions, whether direct, in-kind, or via coordinated communications, or coordinated expenditures, to federal candidates or committees."
Trent and Justice Democrats did not respond to inquiries on whether the super PAC's formation contradicts the group's reform proposals.
The Justice Democrats PAC, which was instrumental in pushing Ocasio-Cortez into office, has so far collected $2.2 million in contributions for the 2020 cycle. Last year, the group came under fire for transferring $1 million to two limited liability companies that were started by Saikat Chakrabarti, a cofounder of the group who went on to become Ocasio-Cortez's chief of staff in her Washington, D.C., office.
Chakrabarti is not the only founding member of Justice Democrats to benefit from transfers from the PAC.
Zack Exley, another Justice Democrats cofounder, helped create a firm called Middle Seat Consulting in early 2017. Justice Democrats PAC paid Middle Seat hundreds of thousands of dollars and still has Exley's firm on its payroll. Ocasio-Cortez's campaign also dished out $200,000 to the firm in the third quarter of 2019.