Florida governor Ron DeSantis's (R.) top Democratic opponent paid thousands of dollars to a young liberal activist who is facing "campus-wide allegations of sexual assault" at his former Ivy League school.
On July 8, Democrat Charlie Crist's gubernatorial campaign paid $2,250 to Politically Correct Strategies—a consulting company registered to Gen Z liberal activist and former Dartmouth student Jack Cocchiarella—for "digital consulting." Just weeks later, on July 28, the prestigious school's College Democrats chapter revealed it ousted Cocchiarella from the club "in late October 2021, following campus-wide allegations of sexual assault." Those allegations emerged publicly in a string of December 2021 Reddit posts, which accused Cocchiarella of using "his Twitter notoriety and left-wing credentials to position himself as an ally. Then, once people let their guards down, he rapes them."
Crist, who did not return repeated requests for comment, has remained silent on the accusations facing his campaign aide. By his own logic, that silence means he endorses Cocchiarella's alleged behavior—in a June 29 tweet, Crist pressed DeSantis to condemn the January 6 riots, writing, "Is it just me, or do you agree that his silence = endorsement?"
Crist is not the only prominent Democrat to hire Cocchiarella following the troubling allegations. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's (R., Ga.) Democratic opponent, Marcus Flowers, has paid Cocchiarella's firm more than $40,000 since October 2021, when the activist announced his "new role" as Flowers's digital director.
Flowers has his own alleged issues with women. In July 2016, the Democrat attempted to dump his ex-wife—Russian national Svetlana Chudinova—at a local homeless shelter, court documents reported by the New Republic show. Flowers did not dispute the incident and instead defended his attempt to offload Chudinova, saying he "felt she had a personality disorder that was not previously disclosed." In turn, Chudinova accused Flowers of threatening to strike her.
Flowers's campaign did not return multiple requests for comment.
Cocchiarella, whose Twitter account boasts more than 250,000 followers and includes a photo of the activist smiling alongside President Joe Biden, enrolled as a Dartmouth freshman during the 2021-22 school year. While it's unclear what specific "digital consulting" services he provided Crist, Cocchiarella publicly endorsed the former governor over fellow DeSantis challenger Nikki Fried (D.) just days after Crist's campaign paid him.
Flowers, meanwhile, routinely replies to Cocchiarella's tweets to solicit campaign contributions. In October 2021, he called the young activist "an outstanding young man." In addition to his work with Crist and Flowers, Cocchiarella has collaborated with the Lincoln Project, an anti-Republican super PAC founded by disgraced sexual predator John Weaver.
Cocchiarella reduced his public presence as allegations against him swirled. A notoriously avid Twitter user, Cocchiarella did not send an original tweet for more than a week after Dartmouth College Democrats confirmed the "campus-wide allegations," instead opting to populate his feed by sharing posts from liberal politicians and journalists. The activist has also blocked users who raised the allegations in his replies.
Cocchiarella during an Aug. 1 podcast appearance did, however, confirm his decision to transfer from Dartmouth to fellow Ivy League school Columbia. The activist did not discuss why he opted to leave Dartmouth after just one year at the college and is yet to publicly address the allegations leveled against him.
Cocchiarella, Dartmouth College Democrats, and Dartmouth's Title IX office did not return requests for comment.