There were no “walls of separation” in the 3,500 square feet of office in Knoxville, Tennessee that in 2017 and 2018 housed two political action committees (PACs), 2 private consulting firms, and at least 12 congressional campaigns committees, all managed or run by Saikat Chakrabarti, who now works as freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) chief of staff.
A source knowledgeable about the building told Breitbart News that Brand New Campaign LLC, a private business formed in Delaware on February 13, 2017 that was obviously managed by Chakrabarti, rented the second and 3rd floors of the structure located at 714 S. Gay Street in downtown Knoxville from the spring of 2017 until March 2018.
The second floor “is totally open area, without any walls at all,” while the 3rd flooring is “mostly open area with a couple of enclosed offices,” a source in Knoxville, Tennessee, who is familiar with the area informed Breitbart News.
The other entities controlled or run by Chakrabarti at the time that were housed at 714 S. Gay St. during the period of occupancy of Brand New Campaign LLC included:
- Brand New Congress, a PAC
- Justice Democrats, a PAC
- Brand New Congress, LLC, a private consulting firm apparently managed by Chakrabarti
- The Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaign, which submitted its statement of organization with the FEC that listed the building as its offices on May 17, 2017 and noted its e-mail as “firstname.lastname@example.org,” the e-mail address of Brand New Congress, the PAC.
- 6 congressional projects which filed their initial declarations of company with the FEC in Might 2017 that noted the building as its office and listed its e-mail as “email@example.com,” the e-mail address of Brand New Congress, the PAC: Robert Ryerse 2018, Letitia Plummer 2018, Adrienne Bell 2018, Sarah Smith 2018, Chardo Richardson for Congress, and the Anthony Clark project
- 5 extra congressional projects that submitted modified declarations of company with the FEC in July 2017 that noted 714 S. Gay St. Knoxville as their headquarters, and an e-mail address of the Brand New Congress PAC (firstname.lastname@example.org) as their campaign e-mail address: Cori Bush 2018, Paula Swearengin 2018, Committee to Choose Ryan Stone, Hector Morales for Congress, and the Perry for Pennsylvania campaign
A few of the congressional campaigns subsequently filed amendments to their declaration of organization listing different addresses for their workplaces.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, however, did not file a modified declaration of organization with the FEC changing the address of her campaign head office from 714 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, Tennessee to an area in New York up until November 20, 2018, two weeks after she won the general election to represent New York’s 14 th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, and more than six months after the Brand New Project LLC lease of the Knoxville workplace space ended.
All informed, a minimum of 16 different companies, all managed or managed by Chakrabarti and, when it comes to 2 of those companies– her own project beginning in Might 2017 and Justice Democrats starting in February 2018, by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez– listed the714 S. Gay Street area as their head office during the 2017 to 2018 amount of time of Brand New Project LLC’s occupancy of the workplace there.
Coordination in between PACs and congressional campaigns is a violation of election law, and in the unusual scenarios where PACs and congressional campaigns have been understood to share office area, FEC regulations need firewall programs–” walls of separation” to help guarantee that prohibited coordination does not happen.
But sources in Knoxville who went to the workplace while it was occupied by Chakrabarti and his associates among the 16 or more entities housed there that he managed or managed say that the physical layout of the area gave the impression that it housed a single, integrated entity.
Breitbart News has actually acquired a brochure with the property listing for the space, which includes an image of both of the floors in the space that was leased by Chakrabarti and Corbin Trent, at the time a homeowner of Morristown, Tennessee, and the Tennessee planner for the 2016 Bernie Sanders project who is now Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s interactions director, on behalf of among the many entities that inhabited it.
For a brief period beginning in late 2012 and continuing into a minimum of the summertime of 2013, Trent owned and run a food truck in Morristown, CrazyGoodBurgers, which declared to offer a few of the most scrumptious premium hamburgers around. A kitchen area fire of unknown origin badly damaged the food truck in 2013, and Trent launched a GoFundMe page to repair the truck. According to that page, he raised a little over $8,000, but CrazyGoodBurgers apparently never re-opened. According to his restaurant bio, Trent is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, where yearly tuition runs about $30,000 per year.
Trent was paid by both the Justice Democrats PAC and the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez congressional project from August 2018 to November 2018, the Free Beacon reported.
Sources tell Breitbart News that Chakrabarti and Trent made numerous check outs to potential head offices around Knoxville in the spring of 2017 prior to settling on the 714 S. Gay Street location.
The lease in between Brand New Project LLC and David Dewhirst, a private individual who owned the structure in early 2017 and likewise serves as the principal owner and CEO of Dewhirst Characteristic, was signed some time in between March 1, 2017 and Might 1, 2017, at which time Brand name New Project LLC started its occupancy.
Sources tell Breitbart News that immediately upon beginning its tenancy of the workplace at 714 S. Gay Street, Brand New Project LLC, Brand Name New Congress LLC, Brand New Congress the PAC, and Justice Democrats, the PAC started generating potential congressional prospects for auditions.
The Justice Democrats PAC wrote in a message posted on the group’s “Fresh Desk” on May 8, 2018 about the technique and strategies behind these open casting calls for congressional candidates:
[M] any of the charter member of Justice Democrats likewise helped start Brand name New Congress in April of2016 At that time, the objective was not simply to endorse existing candidates who have projects. Our goal with Brand name New Congress was to recruit prospects who were not considering running already and to in fact totally run all of their projects as if it was one huge presidential race. This was right after the Bernie campaign, so this was our idea for how to recreate that Bernie motion in a giant 400- prospect national race.
This would let us have all kinds of efficiencies that feature a huge national race and also, our companied believe, was one way we might create a national motion around taking control of Congress. It would likewise, we believed, let us recruit different sort of candidates who may not have had a great deal of experience running projects however who thought in this big vision to alter our country.
” The ONLY method to do work for numerous candidates legally at this scale is to produce an LLC and function as a vendor,” the Justice Democrats memo continued:
Because of that, we created Brand New Congress, LLC. To keep things easy, we put all our staff because LLC and had it act as the vendor for both the PAC and all the candidates. We had in our operating arrangement that the goal of the LLC was not to make a profit, and as such, we made our prices as low as possible while still satisfying the FEC’s requirement that we are charging something sensible since, again, if we weren’t we would essentially be doing heavily discounted work for prospects which is illegal and unethical given that combating dark money is actually what we desire to do. To attempt to make this as tidy as possible, we not only had the language in our operating agreement about the LLC’s purpose, however we likewise made sure that Saikat Chakrabarti was the only managing member of the LLC, and that he took no income (either from the LLC, from Justice Democrats, or from Brand New Congress the PAC). Saikat is lucky to have a little side company that creates him enough income that he has the ability to do all of this work as a volunteer.
Ballotpedia explained the management history of Justice Democrats as follows:
Since February 2018, the board of Justice Democrats consisted ofAlexandria Ocasio-CortezandSaikat Chakrabarti.
In May 2017, the following people held leadership positions with the group:
- Cenk Uygur,Co-founder
- Kyle Kulinski,Co-founder
- Zack Exley,Co-founder
- Saikat Chakrabarti,Co-founder
- David Koller,Treasurer
Cenk Uygur and David Koller resigned from Justice Democrats in December 2017 after it was learned that both had authored blogposts in the early 2000 s that included language the company considered sexist or degrading to females. Kyle Kulinski consequently also resigned from the Justice Democrats’ board due to his disagreement with how the departure of Uygur was managed by the group.
The Justice Democrats Political Action Committee filed its declaration of organization with the Federal Election Commission on January 9, 2017, and noted 6230 Wilshire Blvd #140 Los Angeles, CA as head office, with David Koller of that very same address as treasurer. In an amended statement of organization filed with the FEC on December 22, 2017, it noted its head office as P.O. Box 914, Knoxville, Tennessee. Tara Reilly, whose address was noted as 714 South Gay St., Knoxville, Tennessee, was the treasurer. In its most current changed declaration of organization filed with the FEC on September 12, 2018, the headquarters was listed as P.O Box 910, Knoxville, Tennessee, and the treasurer was listed as Alexandra Rojas of Knoxville, Tennessee.
As soon as authorized, the paperwork for each candidateship was produced, listing 714 S. Gay St. as the congressional project’s head office.
On August 10, 2017, a Knoxville based firm called Radius Residences LLC acquired the building at714 S. Gay Street from David Dewhirst for $840,000, at which time the Brand name New Project LLC lease with Dewhirst was transferred to Radius Residence LLC.
TheKnoxville News Guardreported last week that at the time of this property transfer, the responsible party for the payment of the lease was altered from Brand New Project LLC to Justice Democrats, the PAC.
Federal Election Commission records reveal that Justice Democrats paid Radius Characteristic LLC an overall of $14,125 between September 2017 and February 2018: $3,500 on September 1, 2017, $ 3,675 on December 17, 2017, $3,500 on January 1, 2018, and $ 3,500 on February 1, 2018.
There is no record in FEC filings of any other expense in the classification of “lease” for Justice Democrats in between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018.
Sources knowledgeable about Knoxville property activities inform Breitbart News that payments due for the months of October in the quantity of $3,500 and November in the quantity of $3,500 were made to the property manager, Radius Residence LLC by Brand New Project LLC, and not Justice Democrats.
If this turns out to be true, it opens up an entire brand-new line of inquiry concerning the potential coordination between the PACs, consulting companies, and congressional projects controlled by Chakrabarti.
One function of FEC reporting requirements for PACs and federal political campaigns is to make sure openness of expenses made by these entitities.
The fact that the supposed payment of the lease by Brand name New Project LLC in October and November 2017 at a time when the lease had actually obviously been transferred to Justice Democrats, the PAC, was not reported in FEC filings brings up this natural question:
What other operating expenditures of Justice Democrats were spent for by Brand name New Campaign LLC or Brand Name New Congress LLC and not reported to the FEC?
During the 2018 campaign cycle, the 12 congressional project committees which were headquartered at the 3,500 square feet of leased area at 714 S. Gay Street paid Brand name New Congress LLC, which noted its address as 714 S. Gay Street in Knoxville, Tennessee in FEC filings, a little more than $160,000 for “tactical consulting services.”
As other news outlets have reported extensively and as a current grievance submitted with the FEC declares, during the time period from the formation of the Brand New Congress PAC in April 2016 to December 31, 2018, the personal consulting entities managed by Chakrabarti– Brand Name New Project LLC and Brand New Congress LLC– were paid more than $1 million in “strategic consulting fees” from the two PACs he managed– Justice Democrats and Brand Name New Congress, the PAC– and the a minimum of 12 congressional projects to which his consulting entity Brand New Congress LLC provided “strategic consulting services.”
Brand Name New Congress, the PAC, filed its statement of organization with the FEC on April 5, 2016, and listed its headquarters as PO Box 416, Crane Missouri, with Zack Exley of the very same address as its treasurer.
It made its first expense to Brand New Campaign LLC, whose address was just noted as New york city, New York City, 10114, in the quantity of $10,000 on May 17, 2016 for “tactical consulting.” All informed, Brand New Congress, the PAC, paid Brand New Campaign LLC $200,000 between May 17, 2016 and December 31, 2016 for “strategic consulting,” according to FEC reports.
Total receipts of Brand New Congress, the PAC, for 2016 were just over $252,000, and overall expenditures were $220,000–$200,000 of which went to Brand name New Campaign LLC.
Whatever kind of business company Brand New Project LLC had in 2016, it had a brand-new one in 2017.
Brand New Campaign LLC was formed as a Delaware corporation on February 13, 2017 and noted its address as 109 E. Main Street, Morristown, Tennessee. At its formation, the business had three members, according to files filed with the Delaware Secretary of State, presumably 2 of whom were Chakrabarti and Corbin Trent. According to the Delaware Secretary of State’s site, the business has been inactive given that August 8, 2018.
Brand Name New Congress, the PAC, made no further payments to Brand New Project LLC after December 31, 2016.
But on January 7, 2017 Brand Name New Congress, the PAC, made its very first payment in the quantity of $20,000 for “tactical consulting” to Brand name New Congress LLC, which noted its address as Knoxville, Tennessee, according to FEC records.
On May 10, 2017 Brand New Congress, the PAC, filed an amended statement of organization with the FEC in which it still noted its head office as Crane, Missouri, now listed Nasim Thompson of 714 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, TN as its treasurer.
All informed for the fiscal year 2017, Brand New Congress, the PAC, paid Brand New Congress LLC more than $247,000 in “tactical consulting charges, and nothing in 2018, according to FEC records. It likewise paid Riley Roberts, a local of Arizona reportedly stated to be the partner of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez $6,000 for “marketing consulting” in August and September 2017.
Brand New Congress PAC moved another $240,000 to Brand Name New Congress LLC, also for “strategic consulting.” Another PAC co-founded by Chakrabarti that year, Justice Democrats, transferred an additional $605,000 to Brand New Congress LLC in 2017.
Brand New Congress LLC does not appear to be signed up in any state, according to state government records offered online. It is unclear where or when it was incorporated.
Adav Noti, the senior director of the Project Legal Center and a previous FEC lawyer, stated the plan was extremely uncommon and seemed intended to obscure the destination of the funds.
” None of that makes any sense,” said Noti. “I can’t even begin to disentangle that. They’re either confused or they’re trying to conceal something.”
According to published reports, as of January 2019 Chakrabarti is no longer connected with Justice Democrats or Brand Name New Congress, the PAC.
Breitbart News called both Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Mr. Chakrabarti for comment but got no reaction.