If the Federal Election Commission discovers that the campaign of the New York Democrat operated in contact with the PAC, which had raised over $1.8 million before its main June 2018, it would open them up to “huge reporting violations, possibly at least some illegal contribution violations exceeding the legal boundaries,” said former FEC Commissioner Brad Smith.
Ocasio-Cortez never revealed to the FEC that she and Chakrabarti, who served as her campaign chair, controlled the PAC while promoting her main campaign simultaneously, and former FEC commissioners say the arrangement could lead to numerous infringements of campaign finance. During the 2018 midterms, the party supported 12 Democrats, but Ocasio-Cortez was the only one to win its general.
“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,” former Republican FEC Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky told The Daily Caller.
According to Smith, Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti could face jail if the FEC determines that they willingly and knowingly withheld their connections between the FEC’s campaign and the FEC’s political action committee to bypass campaign contribution boundaries.
“At minimum, there’s a lot of smoke there, and if there are really only three board members and she and [Chakrabarti] are two of them, sure looks like you can see the blaze,” said Smith, a Republican. “I don’t really see any way out of it.”
And if the FEC concludes that the campaign by Ocasio-Cortez and Justice Democrats was working as associated boards, “then anyone who donated more than $2,700 in total to their campaign and the PAC would have made an unnecessary contribution,” which is a breach of campaign finance, Smith added.