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Occupy Democrats founders blame 'clerical error' for directing all their donations to 'fundraising consultants' and an LLC they own, but nothing to federal candidates

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Sehej Calka/Getty Images

The founders of the leftist group Occupy Democrats are having to defend some recent financial decisions after a curious Twitter and YouTube user publicly disclosed details about alleged allocations of the organization's funding.

On Sunday, Hamish Mitchell of African Wildlife Adventures suggested that brothers Omar and Rafael Rivero, who founded the well-known activist group around 2016, had mismanaged the donations they'd collected, likely from some of their 10 million Facebook followers.

"The ‘Occupy Democrats Election Fund’ PAC’, run by Omar Rivero, raised $797K from 2021-2022," Mitchell tweeted. "They contributed $0 to federal candidates. And they spent $577k on ‘Fundraising Consultants’."


Mitchell also included images supposedly of Occupy Democrats' 2021-2022 FEC filings in the tweet.

The $220,000 not directed towards financial consultants was given to Blue Deal LLC, Mitchell further alleged. Omar Rivero himself established Blue Deal, which claims to sell "campaign materials and promotional products to Democratic campaigns and Progressive organizations," and he and his brother now run it together. In other words, Mitchell has accused the Rivero brothers of funneling that $220,000 back into their own pockets.

"Would @OccupyDemocrats & @OmarRiverosays care to explain?" Mitchell asked in his tweet.

It initially appeared that Omar Rivero did, in fact, "care to explain." He responded to Mitchell by commenting, "If you understood the time and effort that goes into making viral memes—and the impact that they have—you might respect our work more." That tweet comment was largely ridiculed on social media, though, and has since been deleted.

In a second attempt to explain the financial dealings, Omar Rivero claimed on Tuesday that Occupy Democrats is a super PAC and therefore prevented by law from contributing to candidates directly. However, critics quickly noted that the group is actually a hybrid PAC, a classification that allows it to make direct contributions to candidates under certain conditions.

Finally, a spokesperson for the organization issued a statement to provide further clarification.

"The Occupy Democrats Election Fund has amended its FEC disclosures to more accurately describe payments made to content creators and digital amplifiers after its previous compliance officer erroneously reported the disbursements as 'fundraising consulting,'" the statement read, according to the Daily Caller. “The payments in question funded the Rebel Alliance, a consortium of high-powered liberal Facebook pages that spun out of the Biden campaign collaboration and funded key meme projects for the Georgia Senate runoffs, the Gavin Newsom recall election, and the Virginia gubernatorial race."

"We regret that a clerical error led to unfounded speculation, as we are proud of our work in these races and supremely confident that our donors’ money was used judiciously and effectively," the statement added.

In an interview with Newsweek on Tuesday, Rafael Rivero also blamed a "clerical error" for all the recent confusion regarding Occupy Democrats' finances.

"I invite the scrutiny," he said. "I'm very proud of our work. We have nothing to hide. Our donors' money has been used judiciously to great impact. And I regret deeply that because of some clerical error, people are jumping to conclusions, but we have all the evidence to prove that what we did was above board and had a great impact on the election in a positive way."

On Wednesday, Mitchell also accused the Occupy Democrats Election Fund PAC of donating to Mitch McConnell shortly before the 2020 election. Occupy Democrats has not responded to this latest allegation.

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