‘Fact checker’ Snopes gets key facts wrong on Ocasio-Cortez campaign finance scandal

‘Fact checker’ Snopes gets key facts wrong on Ocasio-Cortez campaign finance scandal
Saikat Chakrabarti, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Image: YouTube screen grab)

By Andrew Kerr

The left-leaning fact-checking website Snopes butchered facts about a PAC controlled by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her top aide in a story published Thursday.

Ocasio-Cortez and Saikat Chakrabarti, her former campaign chair and current chief of staff, obtained majority control of Justice Democrats in December 2017. The PAC, which had raised more than $1.8 million before her June 2018 primary, has been widely credited with manufacturing her upset victory over incumbent Democrat Joe Crowley.

Snopes writer Dan MacGuill falsely claimed in his story that Chakrabarti, who served as executive director of Justice Democrats, “was not an official agent or officer” of the PAC. He also failed to acknowledge the fact that Chakrabarti and Ocasio-Cortez are members of the PAC’s three-member board of directors, according to archived versions of the Justice Democrats website and corporate filings obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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Chakrabarti began serving as Executive Director of Justice Democrats in January 2017, according to his LinkedIn.

Justice Democrats’ board of directors on March 23, 2018. (Image: Screenshot/Wayback Machine)

Former Federal Election Commission member Brad Smith told TheDCNF that Ocasio-Cortez and her top aide “could be facing jail time” if they knowingly and willfully withheld their control over Justice Democrats from the commission in order to bypass campaign contribution limits.

Snopes joins CNNABC NewsNBC NewsThe Washington PostBusiness Insider and Market Watch in failing to disclose the facts surrounding Ocasio-Cortez’s control over the PAC in stories about the freshman Democrat’s mounting campaign finance scandals. (RELATED: Media Ignores, Mishandles Allegations Of Campaign Finance Violations By Ocasio-Cortez)

Archived copies of the Justice Democrats website reveal Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti held “legal control over” the PAC starting in December 2017, and that Chakrabarti was one of its “major players” up until January 2019.

Ocasio-Cortez and Chakrabarti continue to serve as “governors” of Justice Democrats, according to the PAC’s filings with the Washington, D.C. Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Saikat Chakrabarti listed as governors of Justice Democrats on March 8, 2019, at 2:28 pm. (Image: Screenshot/DCRA)

MacGuill did not return a request for comment.

Following the publication of this article, Snopes updated its article stating that Ocasio-Cortez’s attorneys confirmed that she served on the board of Justice Democrats until June 2018 and that Chakrabarti had also served on the political action committee’s board until January 2019.

Snopes also issued a correction notice at the bottom of its article:

Correction [8 March 2019]: This article previously stated that Saikat Chakrabarti was not an official agent of the “Brand New Congress” PAC or “Justice Democrats” PAC. The article should have stated that he was at one time executive director of the Justice Democrats, and a director of Brand New Congress, but was never listed as treasurer for those committees, in FEC filings.

Notably absent from the correction notice is any mention of Ocasio-Cortez serving on the board of Justice Democrats during her primary campaign.

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