Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may put pressure on Congress, but it's his chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, who drops the napalm.
Over the past three weeks, he has accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of being a weak leader, moderate Dems of being racists, and raging against a t-shirt paying tribute to an Indian nationalist sympathetic to the Nazis.
"If you put a guard who is an arsonist, what is the message you are sending?" Asked Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
A DC Democratic source said that the "incredibly polarizing" Harvard graduate was pushing this conflict between Pelosi and AOC.
"He and AOC are looking for enemies, they are looking for a fight, they are trying to create controversy," he said.
"And it works. It's about raising money, getting more media, raising awareness, increasing email lists, getting to know each other.
July 6, Chakrabarti tweeted that "Pelosi says we can not focus on dismissal because it's a distraction from kitchen table problems. But I challenge you to find voters who can name just one thing the Democrats in the House have done for their kitchen table this year. What does this legislative brain do?
Four days later, Pelosi reprimanded the so-called "team" of progressive youths, including AOC, at an in camera meeting, demanding that they stop posting their grievances via Twitter .
"So, again, you have a complaint? You come to talk to me about it, "Pelosi scolded, according to Politico.
This occurred less than two weeks after Chakrabarti accused what he called "the new Southern Democrats" to be "inflexible in doing what the old Southern Democrats had done in the past." 40s to black and brown people ". He deleted the tweet 30 minutes later. . He added, however, in an upcoming tweetthat moderate Democrats "always allow a racist system".
On Thursday, Pelosi told reporters that "our members have been offended". On Friday, the spit is still warmed up with Dem's official account. attack Chakrabarti for "having explicitly distinguished a Native American woman" (Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas) with her two-week tweet. "Who is this guy?" Asked he.
The chef de cabinet responded"I'm not interested in Twitter mouths without substance."
Dem's strategist Brad Bannon says Chakrabarti's behavior is unprecedented – and potentially dangerous for AOC's career.
"It's useless to ask a staff member to criticize another member," said Bannon. "If AOC wants it, it's one thing … I'm trying to think of another staff member attacking a congressman, and I do not remember that this had happened before."
"This is not a normal chief of staff," said the Democratic source.
The first source of the Dem said that the throwing of grenades had increased the visibility of the AOC, but had undermined its power in the House.
Chakrabarti refused to comment.
Chakrabarti's tweets are closely monitored because he is not just AOC's chief of staff, he is the architect of his campaign – and the rainmaker. After cashing his fortune in Silicon Valley (he founded Mockingbird, a website design tool), Chakrabarti used his new money to guide AOC's dazzling career.
But despite his success, he made some serious mistakes.
Last year, during the AOC campaign, Chakrabarti appeared in a video wearing a t-shirt with the effigy of Subhas Chandra Bose, a radical Indian nationalist and a Nazi supporter who lived in Berlin for two years. In Germany, Adolf Hitler helped Bose build an armed force.
"They create a moral and blank slate situation," said Rabbi Cooper of Chakrabarti's offensive clothing.
"It's very dangerous."
Chakrabarti has not only suffered from ethical controversy, he has also been plunged into legal controversy.
In March, several weeks after the inauguration of Ocasio-Cortez, she and Chakrabarti were named in a complaint to the Federal Election Commission, which accused them of having created a black box of money. $ 1 million by diverting funds from two campaign committees to induce corporations controlled by Chakrabarti.
Chakrabarti keeps his personal finances private. Under federal law, congressional employees who earn more than $ 126,000 a year – the typical salary of a chief of staff – must complete financial statement forms listing their investments and their outside income. Chakrabarti offered himself $ 80,000 a year.
His new role as a democratic flamethrower is a surprise to many.
He grew up in Fort Worth, Texas. After earning a degree in computer science in 2007, he spent a year working for Bridgewater's Connecticut hedge fund before settling in San Francisco and plunging into the world of start-ups. He married lawyer Kamilka Malwatte, his university fiancée and she is pregnant and "waiting very soon," according to an employee of the couple's former apartment in West Village.
The former San Francisco roommate, CJ Messinger, divorce lawyer, said that he had never expected Chakrabarti to be immisciled in politics – particularly among the socialist democrats.
"I was surprised that he is a liberal," said Messinger, recalling their political discussions during their joint life in 2010. "He seemed to be very cautious financially."
But a close friend of Harvard said it was not surprising that after touching the technological arena, Chakrabarti will use his money to "improve the world".
"I think there is a lot of corruption in politics and that Saikat is fairly new and that it is not corrupt," said Harvard 's friend. "I think he just wants to do the right thing, even if someone's powerful wants to do something else."