AOC-Linked PAC Questioned on Contributions

Justice Democrats made donations to retire debt to committees that reported no debt

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez / Getty Images
June 4, 2019

A political action committee linked to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y) is being questioned on potentially impermissible contributions that it made to a number of Democratic committees last year, according to a letter from the Federal Election Commission.

The FEC sent a request for additional information to the Justice Democrats PAC, a far-left group that helped elect Ocasio-Cortez to Congress, on May 30 after conducting its preliminary review of the PAC's amended July quarterly report from 2018. Ocasio-Cortez was listed as a governor of the group until recently.

The FEC states that the amended report from Justice Democrats disclosed one or more contributions to federal candidates for the "retirement of debts incurred during the 2018 Primary election campaign" and that the committees that received the payments themselves had "insufficient debts to warrant such a contribution" from the PAC.

These potentially improper contributions from Justice Democrats include: $1,211 to David Clark, who was a Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District; $324 to Greg Edwards, also a former Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania's 7th District; $733 to Sameena Mustafa, who was a candidate in Illinois's 5th District; $384 to Jennifer Marshall, who was a candidate in North Carolina's 5th District; $281 to Ricardo Jose Trevino Jr., who was a candidate in Texas's 23rd District; and $216 to Jimmy Darnell Jones, who ran in Texas's 2nd district; among a handful of others.

Justice Democrats has until July 5 to respond to the commission's letter. The group did not provide a comment on the contributions by press time.

Ocasio-Cortez and Saikat Chakrabarti, a co-founder of Justice Democrats who is now her chief of staff, were both listed as governors of the group until March, when they were quietly removed in filings to D.C.'s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

At this time, the PAC was facing increased scrutiny over nearly $1 million worth of transfers to limited liability companies started by Chakrabarti, as detailed in a complaint filed to the FEC by the National Legal and Policy Center, which referred to the PAC as a "slush fund."

An individual at D.C.'s consumer and regularity affairs department told the Washington Free Beacon at the time that it was unnecessary for the group to file the report given they did so in March 2018 and are on a two-year cycle, signaling that increased attention of the PAC's activities prompted their removal as governors.

In addition to Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez also tapped Corbin Trent, a former leader of Justice Democrats who acted as her campaign spokesperson, to serve as the communications director in her Washington congressional office.

Natalie Trent, who appears to be Corbin's wife, is now listed as the custodian of records and treasurer of the Justice Democrats PAC, according to its most recently amended filing to the FEC from early April. Natalie Trent has been the operations manager of Justice Democrats since June 2018.