Did AOC's 'Family Fun Run' violate campaign finance law?

It’s all fun and games until donors find out what their hard-earned money is really going to and then the backlash comes. That is what is happening after freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez held a 5K Family Fun Run Saturday in her district in Queens.

It started innocently enough. AOC advertised the 5K run as an opportunity to support her far left aspirational environmental policy known as the Green New Deal. It was billed as “a Family Fun Run supporting U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal on the Saturday following Earth Day.” That’s a clear statement, right? The message says come out and support AOC’s Green New Deal. Period.

It turns out that the $30 registration fee plunked down by participants went directly into AOC’s campaign coffers. Instead of saving the planet, they are saving AOC’s congressional seat. Ocasio-Cortez even told the runners that the purpose was to “fight for the Green New Deal together.” It is reported that 400 people turned out for the event. So, that’s a tidy sum for a campaign to raise on a Saturday afternoon in a congressional district.

Apparently, kids under a certain age received a discount and shorter run – they were charged a $20 registration fee for a 1K run. That’s where the rub comes in. Since the money is really going into her campaign fund, Rep. Ocacio-Cortez, perhaps inadvertently, allowed parents to donate their money on behalf of their children. That’s illegal in the world of campaign finance law. Oops.

The wording used to advertise the fundraiser, er, Family Fun Run, is confusing. While AOC tells her constituents it is a chance to support the Green New Deal, her Facebook page reads that the run also supports her.

A vaguely worded notices on AOC’s Facebook page — saying that the run would support “U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez & the Green New Deal” — worsened the confusion.

But the fine print on a third event-related website revealed the truth.

“Registration fees are contributions to AOC for Congress,” reads the legal disclosure on aoc5k.com, which lists the Federal Election Commission rules that donors must follow.

It sounds as though the runners didn’t pay close enough attention to the fine print though. Ocasio-Cortez’s spokesman confirmed it was a campaign fundraiser.

“It’s going to help raise awareness and educate people,” a female runner told The Post.

“I think it’s really for this particular New Green Deal,” said Brian Schwartz of Long Island. “No question.”

“It’s to help the environment. To support the Green New Deal,” another woman said. “It’s a good cause.”

Some runners felt deceived while others didn’t care because she’s the one pushing the far left agenda. The event drew people from her district and outside participants, too. She will be able to show more local support via campaign contributions, perhaps, when she runs for re-election than she drew in her first quarter in office.

The amount raised is a drop in the bucket for AOC, whose superstar status and combative Twitter feed vaulted her into the fundraising stratosphere in the first quarter of this year, when she raised $726,000 through online solicitations.

I’ll end this with a fun little tidbit from the Family Fun Run’s coverage. A 72-year-old Republican man who ran against her in 2018, Anthony Pappas, was escorted away from the event as officials said he got a little too close to AOC.

Pappas, a professor at St. John’s University, was distributing stapled copies of an eight-page manifesto about his grievances against the judicial system, including complaints about unfair sentencing and a lack of accountability for judges, and ranting to passersby.

Staffers blocked him from approaching Ocasio-Cortez as she took selfies with supporters at the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 5k “fun run.”

“I wanted to tell her about judicial immunity and judicial accountability,” Pappas told The Post, after two police officers guided him away from AOC and her group. She did not seem to acknowledge him.

“She could have at least been polite,” he added.

So, the moral of the story is to read the fine print, just as your parents told you to do as you became old enough to sign your name on the dotted line. Note the mislabeled run in the NY Post tweet below. It’s called a “fund run” which was more truthful than it was advertised, as it turns out.