AOC’s Met Gala Appearance May Have Led To an Investigation
- The House Ethic Committee announced that it is investigating Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.
- This inquiry could be related a complaint regarding Ocasio Cortez’s attendance at the Met Gala in 2021.
- Insider was told that an ethics expert said that a ticket payment could be a violation of ethics.
After the House Ethics Committee on Wednesday announced an investigation into Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, some speculated it was was triggered by a complaint about her attendance at the Met Gala in 2021 — but whether or not it’s an ethics violation all depends on how she got the ticket.
Ocasio Cortez attended the Met Gala in September 2021 in an all-white gown with the words “TAX THE ROICH” written across the back in bright red. The conservative American Accountability Foundation filed a formal complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics on the following day. They accused Ocasio Cortez of violating House rules about accepting gifts at the Met Gala.
The OCE, an impartial body, referred the matter to the OCE in June. House Ethics Committee. The committee announced Wednesday that the investigation would be extended to 2023, but provided no further details.
According to Craig Holman (government affairs lobbyist at Public Citizen), a non-profit consumer rights advocacy group and think-tank, it all comes down to who paid for Ocasio-Cortez’s ticket to the Met Gala.
Holman stated that if a lobbying organization paid for the ticket, it would be a violation under the gift rule. However, I have no reason not to believe it was provided or paid by any lobbying entities. Holman also noted that the Met Gala had claimed it provided the ticket to the congresswoman.
The Met Gala is an annual charity black-tie event that raises funds for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Tickets for the star-studded event are available at $35,000, while tables can be purchased for $300,000. The gala raised $35,000 last year. more than $16.4 million.
House rulesIn an effort to avoid conflicts, Congress has included detailed restrictions on gifts that can still be accepted by members. There are some exceptions to the rule, such as free attendance at “widely attended events” or “charity activities.”
The rules provide that a lawmaker may accept an unrestricted offer of free attendance to an event if the event’s “primary purpose” or more than half the proceeds are for charitable purposes.
Holman stated, “When it comes down to charity events, the whole factor is who bought the ticket.” Holman also said that “the invitation must come directly from the charity organizer.”
It could be a violation of ethics if Facebook buys a Met Gala Table and gives one of its seats to an elected official. Ocasio Cortez was, however, invited directly by the Met Gala.
AAF argued that Ocasio-Cortez was invited to the event by an “agent for a for-profit business,” citing reports that Anna Wintour is the editor-in-chief and executive at Conde Nast.
Wintour has served as an official co-chair or honorary chair of the Met GalaSince 1995, nearly every year.
Insider received an email from Tom Jones, president of AAF. He reiterated their position, saying that Conde Nast’s and Wintour’s invitations were “laundered by slapping on the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute’s logo the top of their invites should not make it any less permissible.” He did not answer questions about Ocasio-Cortez’s participation in comparison to other lawmakers.
Members of Congress and New York officialsThere have been instances when they attended the Met Gala without raising ethical concerns, including Sen. Mitt Obama in 2018 and Hillary Clinton in 2001.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney also attended the Met Gala on several occasions — and became the subject of a House Ethics Committee investigationThis year. Maloney, however, has been there, and not Ocasio Cortez. accused of pushing organizers for an invitationIn 2016, after she was not invited initially, which could be against the ethics rules.
Ocasio-Cortez’s complaint against her was also referred to OCE. Holman stated that he believed the OCE, which doesn’t have subpoena powers, referred the case to the committee so that the committee could “bring in people under the force of the law and get them the answer as to who paid for the ticket.”
Holman said as far as he was aware, there was nothing exceptional or notable about Ocasio-Cortez’s attendance at the Met Gala — except perhaps the congresswoman herself.
“AOC is politically controversial, and she made it even more controversial by wearing that dress.”
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