It’s safe to say that if you go to a 5K run with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s name attached to it, you’re not exactly under the impression that the money is going to go to the Republican National Committee.
However, depending on how the event is marketed, you may not necessarily be under the impression the money is going directly to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign coffers — and that’s why the freshman representative finds herself embroiled in a controversy.
The “fun run,” which took place on Saturday in Astoria Park in Queens, could be mistaken as an environmental event if you didn’t look closely at the advertising for it.
“The Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 5K & 1K Kid Dash is a Family Fun Run supporting U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal on the Saturday following Earth Day,” the event’s website reads.
“Listen to live music, enjoy Fogo Azul as you cross the finish and learn about a Green New Deal.”
The Facebook post about the run, similarly, didn’t give a whole lot of indication what the registration fees were going toward.
And, according to the New York Post, some runners certainly didn’t know.
“I think it’s really for this particular New Green Deal,” one runner said. “No question.”
“It’s going to help raise awareness and educate people,” another said.
“It’s to help the environment. To support the Green New Deal,” another woman told the Post. “It’s a good cause.”
Well, all right, perhaps they were running a race and weren’t exactly in the mode to explain themselves.
But then, Ocasio-Cortez didn’t seem interested in talking to an obviously winded New York Post reporter who tried to ask her questions en route.
Carrying an unidentified child, Ocasio-Cortez simpy ignored the issue.
She also didn’t mention her own campaign coffers while talking to participants before the event, according to the Post.
“We’re getting together for our own health, for our planet’s health … and to fight for the Green New Deal together,” she said, the Post reported.
Except … every dollar collected on Saturday went to AOC for Congress, the congresswoman’s campaign fund.
“It was a campaign fundraiser,” Ocasio-Cortez spokesman Corbin Trent told the Post.
This isn’t just sketchy, it’s also potentially illegal — especially when you consider that there was a 1K run for children as young as 3 with a $20 entrance fee.
For one thing, there are Federal Election Commission regulations regarding donations to a campaign by a minor. One of the stipulations, for instance, is that “[t]he decision to contribute is made knowingly and voluntarily by the minor.”
At an event where there were adults who clearly didn’t know what they were spending their money upon, what could be said about children who might be using their money under the misapprehension they were benefiting the Green New Deal as opposed to its progenitor?
Furthermore, FEC guidelines state that for a minor to give to a campaign, “[t]he contribution is not made using funds given to the minor as a gift for the purpose of making the contribution, and is not in any way controlled by another individual.”
When parents are ponying up crisp cash at an event raising money for Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign, that could be construed as a violation.
And there’s no denying the whole thing at least looks shady — like it’s a fundraiser disguised as a 5K run for the environment.
As one runner told the Post, “The site says it’s to benefit her environmental plan. If it is going to go directly to her campaign they should have said so.”
Now, I don’t pretend that FEC investigators are going to get themselves in a lather about an event that raised $11,000 for a freshman legislator who’s already raised $726,000 in just the first quarter of this year, almost all of it from outside her district.
Nor am I going to get myself in a lather about a dubiously advertised campaign event and pretend it’s some fantastic outrage.
Sure, Ocasio-Cortez could still get in a bit of trouble over it. However, in the whole scheme of Washington politics, the mire out of which swamp monsters like Abscam and the Clinton Foundation have lurched, $11,000 seems almost quaint.
However, Ocasio-Cortez has been in trouble for campaign finance issues that weren’t quite so quaint, particularly a complaint by the National Legal and Policy Center which alleged irregularities involving the funneling of campaign funds into shell companies, inter alia. While this is unconnected to the run, it could represent a pattern asserting itself.
Beyond that, there’s the self-serving nature of it all.
The implication, after all, is that raising money for Ocasio-Cortez benefits the health of the planet. Not that this goes directly to the Green New Deal or anything — after all, money can’t go specifically to a piece of legislation, no matter how impractical or moribund it may be.
Apparently, the fact that it’s going to directly to Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t need to be disclosed, either. Surely those runners and their offspring would recognize the righteousness of the cause if they were told, right?
That makes this shell game perfectly acceptable?
No, she’s not the only politician who would do this, but that’s the entire point:
No matter how she markets herself, she’s just another politician.
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