AOC Spox Simultaneously Collected Salary From Campaign and Justice Democrats

Overlapping money another sign of close proximity of campaign and left-wing group

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez / Getty Images
March 7, 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's spokesperson collected nearly $20,000 in overlapping salary payments from the New York Democrat's campaign committee and the Justice Democrats political action committee over a two-month span last year, filings to the Federal Election Commission show.

Corbin Trent, Ocasio-Cortez's communications director in her Washington, D.C. office, was a leader of the Justice Democrats, the far-left group behind the freshman Democrat's sharp political rise and surprise upset victory over seasoned Democratic representative Joseph Crowley.

As Trent was acting as a spokesperson for Ocasio-Cortez's campaign last year, he was receiving a salary from the Justice Democrats PAC. Between September 9, 2017 and October 15, 2018, $73,000 in salary disbursements were paid to Trent from the group's PAC. 

Trent began collecting payments from Ocasio-Cortez's campaign in August 2018 while he was still being compensated from the Justice Democrats PAC.

From August 15 to October 15, Trent was paid $12,293 in salaries and wages from the Justice Democrats PAC while simultaneously collecting $7,310 from Ocasio-Cortez's campaign payroll, FEC filings show. The payments from Justice Democrats to Trent stopped on October 15. From that point, Trent was given an additional $7,805 from Ocasio-Cortez's campaign, $855 of which was a payroll bonus.

Trent did not respond to an inquiry sent to his Justice Democrats email address seeking explanation about the work he was performing for the group while he was being paid by the Ocasio-Cortez campaign.

Additional emails to Corbin's House email address and Ocasio-Cortez's generic press address informing them of the inquiry sent to Corbin's Justice Democrats account were not acknowledged. Hill staffers are barred from discussing campaign matters using official resources.

Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez's chief of staff who acted as her campaign chair and was a co-founder of Justice Democrats, did not directly appear on the payroll but was reimbursed $597.72 for an iPhone for Ocasio-Cortez, given $755 as a payment for a portion of a fundraising dinner, and was paid another $2,700 from the campaign for consulting.

The Justice Democrats PAC along with Brand New Congress PAC, a group also co-founded by Chakrabarti and Trent, funneled more than $1 million in contributions to entities established by Chakrabarti, according to a complaint filed to the FEC this week by the National Legal and Policy Center that lists Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti as respondents.

The money was sent from the PACs to Brand New Congress LLC and Brand New Campaign LLC, both limited liability companies established by Chakrabarti.

Brand New Congress LLC, which lists its address in Tennessee, is not a registered entity in that state, according to a search of business records. It is also not incorporated in Delaware, a popular destination for its lack of disclosure requirements for individuals who establish limited liability companies.

The Daily Caller additionally found that Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti obtained majority control of the Justice Democrats PAC in late 2017 and appear to maintain that control of the group now. Ocasio-Cortez did not disclose her or Chakrabarti's roles with group to the FEC as the PAC was throwing its weight behind the campaign.

"If the facts as alleged are true, and a candidate had control over a PAC that was working to get that candidate elected, then that candidate is potentially in very big trouble and may have engaged in multiple violations of federal campaign finance law, including receiving excessive contributions," Hans von Spakovsky, a former FEC commissioner, told the Caller.