Nancy Pelosi is obviously having difficulty controlling the increasingly acrimonious infighting between factions of the House Democratic caucus. Most observers assume that the primary cause of this discord is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the cadre of far-left first-termers collectively known as “the Squad.” But its actual source is Saikat Chakrabarti, the prime mover behind a Tennessee-based PAC called the “Justice Democrats,” whose support was largely responsible for getting Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Ro Khanna, and Pramila Jayapal elected last November. Chakrabarti has now set up shop in the House, ostensibly as AOC’s chief of staff.
Chakrabarti’s previous HQ was a Knoxville address out of which the Justice Democrats and another PAC operated side by side with a dozen congressional campaign committees. This arrangement flouted a variety of campaign finance laws and prompted several Federal Election Commission complaints, including one alleging that Chakrabarti set up a $1 million slush fund. But this sort of skullduggery is standard practice among Democrats. What exacerbated the already tense atmosphere in their House caucus was Chakrabarti’s response to the $4.6 billion border aid package passed by Congress last month. On June 27, he took to Twitter and berated the Democratic leadership for its shortcomings:
As usual, Dem leadership tried to create a pre-watered down border bill because of a mistaken idea that it’s more “viable.” And they lost to McConnell anyway. This is the entire theory of change that never works. Why not start from your strongest negotiating stance?
Predictably, this presumptuous tweet drew a number of angry responses from various Democrats who had voted for the measure, whereupon Chakrabarti once again betook himself to Twitter and proceeded to accuse his critics of racism:
Instead of “fiscally conservative but socially liberal,” let’s call the New Democrats and Blue Dog Caucus the “New Southern Democrats.” They certainly seem hell bent to do to black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s.
Chakrabarti later deleted that tweet, but not before it had clearly signaled who actually calls the shots in AOC’s office. read more