FACT CHECK: Did Ocasio-Cortez Pay Her Boyfriend With Campaign Funds?

Aryssa Damron | Fact Check Reporter

Robert Blizzard, a Republican pollster, claimed Friday that Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez paid her boyfriend, Riley Roberts,”$1,750 out of her campaign account.”

Verdict: False

Roberts provided $1,750 worth of digital marketing services to the Ocasio-Cortez campaign, but the services were performed free of charge.

Fact Check:

Roberts made headlines after it was revealed Friday that a House email account had been created in his name. This caused some to speculate that Ocasio-Cortez had hired her boyfriend. The New York congresswoman responded via Twitter, saying that the email was created so that Roberts could have access to her calendar.

Ocasio-Cortez confirmed her relationship with Roberts in a 2018 Vogue interview. They met while students at Boston University. Ocasio-Cortez graduated in 2011, Roberts in 2012.

Vogue referred to him as “an easygoing redhead who works in web development.” According to his LinkedIn profile, Roberts specializes in digital marketing.

Roberts provided services to the Ocasio-Cortez campaign between March and June of last year, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Those services were valued at $1,750, but they were donated in-kind.

The FEC defines an in-kind donation as “a contribution of goods, services or property offered free or at less than the usual and normal charge.”

Filings show the Ocasio-Cortez campaign recorded two disbursements, or payments, to Roberts in 2018: one for $1,500 and another for $250. This appears to be the basis for Blizzard’s claim.

But records show another two entries – $1,500 and $250 in contributions under Roberts’ name – that offset the two disbursements. Taken together, these entries balance out to zero, and are how the FEC requires in-kind donations to be reported. In actuality, Roberts provided these services free of charge.

Blizzard did not respond to a request for comment.

Though he was not paid by the Ocasio-Cortez campaign, Roberts has previously worked as a marketing consultant on the campaign trail. Brand New Congress, a PAC started by former staffers on the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, paid Roberts $6,000 over a two-month period in 2017.

According to its website, “Brand New Congress recruited Rep. Ocasio-Cortez to run for Congress back in 2017.”

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Aryssa Damron

Fact Check Reporter


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