According to a congressional watchdog, Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez might have broken House rules when she accepted gifts associated with her 2021 attendance at the Met Gala, a prestigious fashion event.
The Office of Congressional Ethics recommended that the watchdog continue investigating an accusation against the Democrat from New York “because there is substantial reason to believe that she accepted impermissible gifts” associated with the event, according to a Thursday press release from the agency.
Ocasio-Cortez attended the event at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. She wore a Brother Vellies’ white dress with “Tax the Rich” in large red letters across the back.
According to an Office of Congressional Ethics report, the representative was given a handbag, jewelry, a dress, and shoes for the event. Ocasio-Cortez also received makeup, hair, transportation services, and a hotel room for the event.
According to the review, Ocasio-Cortez paid for the gifted items, including the cost to ‘rent’ the dress, only after the watchdog group began its inquiry. Investigators maintain that if the office had not opened the investigation, “it appears that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez may not have paid for several thousands of dollars’ worth of goods and services provided to her.”
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez maintains she did not know the details of the payments
Ocasio-Cortez told investigators that she did not know the details about the payments and had depended on a campaign staffer to handle the matter. Additionally, she told the office, “there was a ball that was dropped,” and called the situation “deeply regrettable.”
A statement issued Thursday from the congresswoman’s office argued that none of the findings rise to the level of a violation of ethics because Ocasio-Cortez has always “understood that she had to pay for these expenses from her own personal funds.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s office said that the issue is that costs have yet to be reimbursed, delays the representative says are “unacceptable,” according to the statement. “And she has taken several steps to ensure nothing of this nature will happen again.”
The Office of Congressional Ethics maintains that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez accepted “impermissible gifts associated with her attendance at the Met Gala in 2021,” violating federal law, standards of conduct, and House rules.”
The report states, “In 2021, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was invited to and attended the Met Gala with Mr. Roberts. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was given a couture dress, handbag, shoes, and jewelry as part of her attendance. She also received hair, makeup, transportation, and ready-room services. Riley Roberts received a bowtie and shoes in advance of the event.”
“While Rep. Ocasio-Cortez appears to have now paid for the rental value of the attire she wore to the Met Gala and for the goods and services she and her partner received in connection with this September 2021 event, payment for these goods and services did not occur until after the OCE contacted her in connection with this review.”
However, the ethics office says that the representative might not have paid for “several thousands of dollars’ worth of goods and services provided to her.”