AOC’s Chief of Staff: LGBTQ Native American Rep Enabling Racism with Immigration Vote

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY., right, and her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabar
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The chief of staff for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) claimed the first openly LGBT Native American woman elected to Congress is enabling a “racist system” by not supporting a radical immigration bill.

Saikat Chakrabarti, a former Silicon Valley executive who is now Ocasio-Cortez’s top aide, took to social media on Thursday to air his frustration with moderate Democrats for forcing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to abandon a $4.6 billion emergency border appropriation favored by progressives.

The move came after a group of moderate Democrats in the Blue Dog Coalition promised to oppose the House appropriation if it was brought to a vote again. Much to the chagrin of Ocasio-Cortez and others, Pelosi conceded and said she would accept a more bipartisan version of the bill passed by the Senate on Wednesday.

Chakrabarti appeared to be particularly perturbed by the moderate’s action.

“Can we stop calling the Blue Dog Caucus “fiscally conservative but socially liberal?'” Chakrabarti wrote. “I missed the part of fiscal conservativeness or social liberalness that includes wasting $4.5 billion of taxpayer money to put kids in concentration camps.”

He issued several more broadsides against the Blue Dog Coalition and the New Democrats, another moderate group within the House majority. Chakrabarti likened the moderates to old Southern Democrats, many of whom were avowed segregationists.

“Didn’t realize this needed to be said, but: you can be someone who does not personally harbor ill will towards a race, but through your actions still enable a racist system,” he said. “And a lot of New Democrats and Blue Dogs did that today.”

A fellow progressive activist, Julian Brave NoiseCat, noted the rhetoric might be a “little harsh” considering one of the moderates that wavered on the immigration bill was Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), the first openly LGBT Native American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Chakrabarti responded by saying the characterization seemed fair since moderates, like Davids, “consistently vote as a block to criminalize immigrants,” albeit “only brown ones.”

NoiseCat responded that Davids appeared to have a record of standing with DACA recipients, even being arrested at a protest advocating on their behalf.

“I think the vote was abhorrent, obviously,” he wrote. “But like maybe insinuating they’re all Jim Crow supporters isn’t accurate?”

Chakrabarti claimed the comparison was apt, as Davids supported the bipartisan Senate bill because it was in line with her district, much like many “old Southern Democrats” did with segregation, even if they all were not “Jim Crow supporters.”

He further defended his point, saying people do not “have to be personally racist to enable a racist system.” Chakrabarti added that although he did not thing Davids was a “racist person,” she was helping “enable a racist system” by the way she voted in Congress.

“I don’t think people have to be personally racist to enable a racist system,” Chakrabarti said. “And the same could even be said of the Southern Democrats. I don’t believe Sharice is a racist person, but her votes are showing her to enable a racist system.”

David’s office did not return requests for comment on this story by press time.

Chakrabarti is the former executive director of Justice Democrats, a progressive advocacy group working to push the Democrat Party left by primarying moderates. In March, he came under fire after a complaint was filed with the Federal Election Commission claiming he funneled more than $1 million in political donations into two of his private companies.


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