AN UPDATE

Luke Thompson
Feb 21 · 4 min read

I screwed up. I omitted uncategorized contributions from my total for AOC’s fundraising haul. She had an inordinately large share of her donations fall into this category and her campaign continues to struggle to come into compliance with the FEC — their most recent Request for Additional Information Letter went to the campaign last week. Additionally the FEC data updated overnight Friday after I’d run my numbers. I should have checked again. My mistake.

But while that slightly changes the motive underlying the payments, it doesn’t change the basic facts. AOC’s campaign wasn’t in debt, but it was scraping by when the decision was made to pay her boyfriend. Does that make it better? No, no it does not. It still makes it a massive conflict of interest. And that’s not something her team has been able to address because they can’t.

Instead they’ve made two suggestions. First they’ve suggested hiring Roberts was totally appropriate because he was qualified. Color me extremely skeptical. The PAC itself says it hired him on for a two month trial basis. When that trial was up, he was out. Does that sound like somebody who was one of the best in the business? No, no it does not.

That date, August 3, is also important because Saikat says he stepped down from BNCPAC on August 1, thus he didn’t hire Roberts. He acknowledges however that there was a period of leadership transition. So this claim he didn’t hire Roberts is nonsense. This was a major external allocation for BNCPAC and one totally out of character for the org.

How out of character? BNCLLC isn’t Saikat’s first support company for BNCPAC. Last cycle he used a Delaware LLC called Brand New Campaign, registered to an address in Manhattan that is connected to Saikat in Lexis. I’m not going to print the address because it might be a residence. That cycle BNCPAC raised $252,562 and spent $220,500.08. Of that, $205,154.71 went to Saikat’s LLC.

Those are scam PAC numbers — but not because BNCPAC is a scam PAC. It’s because the entire point of this operation is to bring insurgent campaigns under a single roof to solve coordination problems and efficiently distribute resources. It’s also a great way to hide what you’re actually doing on a campaign. Saikat says his company was embedding staff, running phone banks, you name it, all at cost. But we don’t know because all that money just got funneled to his LLCs under the auspices of “strategic consulting”. So much for transparency.

It also shows just how bizarre it is for BNCPAC to pay anybody outside of one of Saikat’s LLCs. It’s simply not something the org had done to date and it remains, for BNCPAC, a huge outlay.

The motive for that outlay is secondary to the fact of its existence. Saikat says he wasn’t in charge when it was made and instead blames without naming his successors, even as he admits there was a lengthy leadership transition. He doesn’t say “I didn’t know this happened.” He doesn’t say “I didn’t encourage this.” He doesn’t say “I had nothing to do with this.” He just equivocates about who was in charge when the decision was made. Absent an unequivocal denial, which given the self-admitted transition period Saikat cannot offer, it still stands to reason he was responsible for the payment and may well have directed it.

Moreover the claim that Roberts is great at his job seems to be refuted by the fact that the PAC canned him as soon as his two month trial period ran up.

I’d also like to know, if Roberts was “volunteering” for AOC’s campaign, why some of it got written down as an in-kind and some not. If $3,000 is his monthly retainer at market rate, then what accounts for the slightly more than fifteen hundred he got paid by the campaign? Why was that an in-kind construction and other work not? It almost sounds like these guys can’t get their story straight.

Here’s what hasn’t changed: Saikat’s PAC paid AOC’s boyfriend six grand bookending a six grand payment from AOC’s campaign to Saikat’s LLC. AOC then made Saikat her Chief. Whether he paid Riley as an under the table reimbursement for her campaign, or simply because he wanted to throw some money at one of his candidates is actually immaterial. And you can’t tell me that money sent to Roberts isn’t money sent to AOC. They were living together and, as we’ve been told a thousand times, he’s a spouse…even though they’re not married and she doesn’t disclose his income as a spouse on her mandatory congressional disclosure forms.

As for the congresswoman herself, she seems committed to distracting from the fact that she engaged in swampy campaign finance chicanery.

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    Luke Thompson

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    Politics, numbers, graphs. Recovering academic, previously with Right to Rise and NRSC. Excited to hear your thoughts in extensive detail.