75% of “The Squad” Has Been Investigated for Campaign Finance Abuses
The so-called “squad” has more in common than their relative youth and progressive politics – facing allegations of campaign finance fraud. As of writing, 75% of the “squad” has been in, or is currently in that predicament.
The most recent to find themselves under investigation is Rashida Tlaib. According to the House Ethics Committee, “Rep. Tlaib’s campaign committee, Rashida Tlaib for Congress, reported campaign disbursements that may not be legitimate and verifiable campaign expenditures attributable to bona fide campaign or political purposes. 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.”
At the center of the complaint is the allegation that Tlaib potentially converted campaign funds to personal funds by paying herself a salary during a disallowed period (after November 6th, 2018). The payments were a $2,000 payment on November 16th and $15,500 payment on December 1st. Tlaib’s campaign had authorized a bi-weekly salary of $2,000 for her, so the $15,500 payment is extremely unusual.
And she’s not the only one.
Back in June, Ilhan Omar was ordered to reimburse her campaign $3,500 after an investigation from the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board found she illegally used campaign funds in 2016 and 2017. She was also fined $500. The violating payments included reimbursements for personal travel expenses, in addition to hiring a law firm for services related to an inquiry into her personal tax returns.
Soon-after she was hit with an FEC complaint in late August for allegedly using her campaign to illegally reimburse the travel expenses of political consultant Tim Mynett, who she is alleged to have had an affair with in divorce papers submitted by Mynett’s wife. The complaint was filed one day after those papers were submitted. Omar’s campaign has paid Mynett’s firm “E. Street Group, LLC” nearly $230,000 for various services since the beginning of 2018, and travel expenses. Most of the payments were after election day. Travel expenses totaled over $21,000 and were not itemized, which is required.
In March, the National Legal and Policy Center filed a FEC complaint against AOC alleging that she and her former chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti violated campaign finance laws by funneling nearly $1 million to businesses owned by Chakrabarti.
The funds were expended in support of ten or more Congressional candidates by a for-profit entity called Brand New Congress LLC, apparently operated by Chakrabarti. The Act requires that all expenditures of $200 or more to be disclosed to the FEC, and their purpose identified. The Complaint alleges that Chakrabarti’s LLC served as a “cutout,” for at least $885,735 received from Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign and two federal political action committees, Brand New Congress PAC and Justice Democrats PAC.
AOC confirmed that the FEC was investigating her in August, dismissing it as a “trolling” effort. She said that her and Chakrabarti were “in conversation” with the FEC.
That leaves Massachusetts rep Ayanna Pressley as the only “squad” member to have never been investigation over alleged campaign finance violations. Congratulations to her for that accomplishment.