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It hasn’t even been a year since the “Squad” made up of progressive far-left Democrat congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley were elected to office.
Yet, in that short time 3/4 of the “Squad” are under financial investigations.
Those 3 are the most prominent bunch: AOC, Omar, and Tlaib who are all facing serious accusations of campaign finance violations.
Here's a snapshot of the accusations that 3 of the 4 "Squad" members are facing that could land them serious jail time, from The Daily Caller:
Ocasio-Cortez Could Face ‘Jail Time’ Over Unreported Affiliation With Outside PAC
Ocasio-Cortez’s political rise in 2018 was made possible in large part to Justice Democrats PAC, an outside political action committee that recruited her to enter politics in 2017 and provided much of her campaign’s staffing and overhead needs in the lead-up to her June 2018 primary victory over former Rep. Joe Crowley.
Ocasio-Cortez’s relationship with Justice Democrats became the subject of intense scrutiny in 2019, resulting in two complaints submitted to the FEC.
One complaint, submitted in April, centered on Ocasio-Cortez’s control over Justice Democrats while the PAC was simultaneously supporting her primary campaign.
Ocasio-Cortez and her former campaign chair Saikat Chakrabarti were appointed to hold two of the PAC’s three board seats in December 2017, but the Federal Election Commission was never notified of the affiliation between her campaign and Justice Democrats.
Multiple former FEC commissioners told the Daily Caller News Foundation that Ocasio-Cortez could face civil or criminal penalties for failing to disclose her campaign’s affiliation to the outside PAC.
“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 former FEC Chairman Brad Smith.
“If this were determined to be knowing and willful, they could be facing jail time,” Smith said. “Even if it’s not knowing and willful, it would be a clear civil violation of the act. … I think they’ve got some real issues here.”
Former FEC Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky added: “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.”
Another complaint, submitted in March, alleged that Chakrabarti, who served as Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff until August, was running a slush fund during the 2018 midterms by diverting $1 million from Justice Democrats PAC to an LLC under his control.
“It appears Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her associates ran an off-the-books operation to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, thus violating the foundation of all campaign finance laws: transparency,” said National Legal and Policy Center Director Tom Anderson, who filed the complaint.
The FEC is currently investigating the complaints filed against Ocasio-Cortez and Justice Democrats. Ocasio-Cortez confirmed in August that she’s been in conversation with the FEC, saying that she was “in total compliance” and dismissing the complaints as “a form of legal trolling” from “fringe, Republican groups.”
Ilhan Omar Diverts Campaign Funds To Alleged Boyfriend
Omar’s alleged abuse of campaign funds began long before her congressional campaign in 2018.
Minnesota’s Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ordered Omar in June to repay her state campaign $3,500 it had improperly spent for non-campaign purposes in 2016 and 2017 during her tenure as a state legislator. Omar was also required to pay a $500 civil penalty for using campaign funds to travel to a non-campaign related conference in Florida.
Reports surfaced in August that Omar was having an affair with married Democratic consultant Tim Mynett, according to a divorce filing by his wife, Dr. Beth Jordan Mynett.
FEC records revealed that Omar’s campaign had disbursed tens of thousands of dollars in “travel expenses” to Tim Mynett’s company, E. Street Group, LLC.
Omar’s campaign began making travel payments to Tim Mynett’s company on April 1, about a week before his wife alleged in her divorce filing that he admitted to having an affair with the congresswoman.
Tim Mynett has been pictured traveling with Omar across the country in recent months. In one picture, obtained by the Daily Mail, the two were holding hands.
Tim Mynett’s “more recent travel and long work hours now appear to be more related to his affair with Rep. Omar than with his actual work commitments,” Beth Mynett said in her divorce filing.
Omar’s campaign payments to Tim Mynett’s firm prompted the National Legal and Policy Center to file an FEC complaint against Omar’s campaign alleging that she was using campaign funds to pursue a romantic affair.
Anderson, of the National Legal and Policy Center, told the DCNF: “We believe Representative Ilhan Omar may have touched the third rail of campaign finance law: disbursing campaign funds for personal use. It’s a brazen act Representative Omar was caught doing before in Minnesota and all of the evidence we’ve seen tells us she’s probably doing it again.”
Omar’s attorneys dismissed the National Legal and Policy Center’s FEC complaint and called it a baseless “political ploy.”
The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch also submitted a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics in September asking for an investigation into Omar’s campaign payments to Tim Mynett’s company.
Omar ramped up her campaign spending to Tim Mynett’s firm in the third quarter of 2019, according to an FEC filing in October. About 30% of Omar’s campaign spending from July through September went to his firm. In total, Omar’s campaign has disbursed $370,000 to Tim Mynett’s firm.
House Ethics Panel Recommends Subpoena Over Rashida Tlaib’s Campaign Payments
The five members of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) board voted unanimously in November to recommend the House Ethics Committee continue its investigation into whether Tlaib improperly diverted campaign funds for her personal use.
House rules allow candidates to receive a salary from their campaign up to what they earned the year prior to their campaign; however, they’re only allowed to receive such payments until the date of their election.
Tlaib had received over $17,500 from her campaign after her election victory in November 2018 in an apparent violation of House rules.
“If Rep. Tlaib converted campaign funds from Rashida Tlaib for Congress to personal use, or if Rep. Tlaib’s campaign committee expended funds that were not attributable to bona fide campaign or political purposes, then Rep. Tlaib may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law,” OCE said.
OCE said Tlaib and her staffers refused interviews to discuss the suspect salary payments.
Tlaib has denied wrongdoing and said in a statement she “received the minimum salary payments necessary for me to meet my personal financial obligations.”
For some more details on the allegations against AOC, The Washington Examiner said back in March:
Two political action committees founded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s top aide funneled over $1 million in political donations into two of his own private companies, according to a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission on Monday.
The cash transfers from the PACs — overseen by Saikat Chakrabarti, the freshman socialist Democrat's chief of staff — run counter to her pledges to increase transparency and reduce the influence of "dark money" in politics.
Chakrabarti's companies appear to have been set up for the sole purpose of obscuring how the political donations were used.
The arrangement skirted reporting requirements and may have violated the $5,000 limit on contributions from federal PACs to candidates, according to the complaint filed by the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group.
Campaign finance attorneys described the arrangement as “really weird” and an indication "there’s something amiss." They said there was no way of telling where the political donations went — meaning they could have been pocketed or used by the company to pay for off-the-books campaign operations.
PACs are required to disclose how and when funds are spent, including for expenditures such as advertisements, fundraising emails, donations to candidates, and payments for events and to vendors.
The private companies to which Chakrabarti transferred the money from the PACs are not subject to these requirements.
The complaint names Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti as respondents. It asks the FEC to investigate and audit the two PACs, saying they were engaged in an "an elaborate scheme to avoid proper disclosure of campaign expenditures."
Tom Anderson, director of the National Legal and Policy Center's Government Integrity Project, said: "It appears Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her associates ran an off-the-books operation to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, thus violating the foundation of all campaign finance laws: transparency."
Chakrabarti, 33, is a Harvard graduate and technology entrepreneur who became an organizer for Bernie Sanders during the socialist's 2016 presidential campaign.
He founded a PAC called Brand New Congress in 2016 and another called Justice Democrats in 2017, with the stated goal of helping elect progressive candidates to Congress. One of those candidates was Ocasio-Cortez, who, last November, age 29, became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
According to the Brand New Congress website, the PAC would build a "unified campaign" infrastructure including fundraising, organizing, rallies, and advertising progressive congressional candidates across the country could "plug into," saving the individual campaigns time and money.
"Our idea is really to run a single unified presidential-style campaign that is going to look a lot like the Bernie Sanders campaign,” said Chakrabarti in an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow in May 2016. "The campaign infrastructure and fundraising is set aside from the campaigning."
In 2016 and 2017, Chakrabarti’s PACs raised about $3.3 million for the project, primarily from small donors. During this time, the committees transferred over $1 million to two shell companies controlled by Chakrabarti with names similar to one of the PACs, Brand New Campaign LLC and Brand New Congress LLC, according to federal election filings.
On Ilhan Omar, The New York Post stated:
When news of the alleged affair broke, Omar had already paid $223,000 through her campaign since 2018 for fundraising consulting, internet advertising, digital communications, and travel expenses to the E Street Group — taking the latest total to $370,000.
But the federal agency charged with probing the campaign finance complaint against Omar is powerless to act because it doesn’t have enough commissioners on the bench to investigate.
“This is something every American should be very concerned about,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist at the watchdog group Public Citizen.
“We have no election cop on the beat. The Federal Election Commission essentially closed its doors so everyone knows they can pretty much do whatever they want to do and that’s the status of our political system today.”
Both Omar and Mynett have denied the allegations in Beth Mynett’s divorce papers that the consultant dumped his wife in April because he was having an affair with the Somali-born US representative.
In October, Omar filed for divorce from her husband, Ahmed Hirsi, amid the affair allegations — claiming the marriage was “irretrievable.” The split was finalized on Nov. 5.
The congresswoman’s office and the E Street Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
A conservative watchdog, the National Legal and Policy Center, filed a complaint against Omar with the Federal Election Commission in the wake of the bombshell report — seeking a probe into whether the Democrat used campaign funds to rendezvous with her alleged lover.
But because the FEC has only three of six commissioner slots filled and needs at least four members to vote on complaints, their hands are tied.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” Holman said of the continued payments from Omar to her alleged love interest. “We literally have no election cop on the beat and we’re entering the 2020 election that promises to be the most expensive election in history.”
The FEC complaint focused on the fact that more than $12,673.43 of the payments to Mynett were simply labeled “travel expenses” — a potential breach of campaign finance law, which mandates that travel expenses be itemized.
“Our question is whether this was necessary travel or whether she was just bringing her boyfriend along for the company,” NLPC chairman Peter Flaherty said in August.
Regarding the violations Rashida Tlaib may have carried out, The Hill said:
The House Ethics Committee on Thursday extended its probe into Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and released a report from the board of the Office of Congressional Ethics recommending further investigation.
The OCE in recommending that Ethics extend its probe cited "substantial reason to believe" that she misused campaign funds.
The report focuses on payments received by Tlaib from her campaign after the Nov. 6, 2018, election, but before she assumed her House seat.
According to the report, Tlaib received $2,000 on Nov. 16 and $15,500 on Dec. 1. The congresswoman received additional payments totaling $28,000 prior to the election, according to the report.
Under federal campaign finance guidelines, candidates are generally allowed to receive payments from their campaigns, but the payments must be for work performed prior to the election, not after.
Tlaib has denied any misuse of funds, saying in a statement that she "received the minimum salary payments necessary for me to meet my personal financial obligations, while ensuring that the campaign reserved the resources needed to reach voters," The Detroit News reports.