AOC-Linked Dark Money Goes After Biden and Buttigieg

Andrew Kerr

A dark money group with ties to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced Tuesday it will spend over $500,000 on digital ads attacking former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Ocasio-Cortez has in the past called dark money the “enemy to democracy,” saying groups that use it do so to “manipulate electorates” and silencegrassroots candidates.

The group, Organize for Justice, is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, meaning it can raise unlimited sums of money without having to disclose the identity of its donors to the public. Organize for Justice calls itself the “sister organization” of Justice Democrats, a PAC whose board Ocasio-Cortez served on throughout most of her pivotal 2018 primary campaign.

Organize for Justice plans on spending $500,000 on Facebook ads promoting news articles that highlight Biden and Buttigieg’s lack of progressive bonafides, according to HuffPost.

The dark money group has already spent about $20,000 on about 40 Facebook ads, all of which were run on a month-old page called “Watercooler Politics,” Quartz reported. The ads targeted voters in the early caucus and primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

“We need leaders who can connect with diverse communities and work for ordinary people, not big donors, to take on the big challenges we’re facing,” states one of the Organize for Justice ads linking to an article titled, “Why 2020 Won’t Be Won By Centrists.”

Ocasio-Cortez did not immediately return a request for comment.

Ocasio-Cortez and her then-campaign chair Saikat Chakrabarti served on the three-member board of Justice Democrats PAC while it simultaneously supported her primary campaign in 2018.

But Ocasio-Cortez never disclosed to the Federal Election Commission that she controlled the political action committee during her campaign.

Multiple former FEC commissioners previously told the DCNF that Ocasio-Cortez’s unreported affiliation with Justice Democrats during her 2018 primary campaign could land her in legal trouble.

The Coolidge Reagan Foundation, a conservative watchdog group, filed an FEC complaint against Ocasio-Cortez in April 2019 over her unreported affiliation with Justice Democrats. A total of three FEC complaints were filed against Ocasio-Cortez over her relationship with Justice Democrats.

Ocasio-Cortez acknowledged in August 2019 that she was “in conversation” with the FEC over the complaints, saying she was in “total compliance” with the law while dismissing the measures as a “form of legal trolling” from “fringe, Republican groups.”

However, the FEC is currently unable to take any official action to enforce campaign finance laws as it has had only three active commissioners on its six-member board since the end of August 2019.

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Image: Reuters.

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