Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez might have violated House rules with Met Gala gifts, watchdog says
A congressional watchdog says Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez might have violated House rules when she received gifts associated with her attendance at a prestigious fashion event in 2021.
The Office of Congressional Ethics recommended the House ethics committee continue investigating an allegation against the New York Democrat “because there is substantial reason to believe that she accepted impermissible gifts” associated with the Met Gala, according to a release Thursday from the agency.
In 2021, Ocasio-Cortez attended one of the fashion world's biggest nights at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art wearing a Brother Vellies white dress with "Tax the Rich" written in large red letters on the backside.
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Ocasio-Cortez was provided with the dress, a handbag, shoes and jewelry for the event, according to a report from the Office of Congressional Ethics. She also received hair, makeup and transportation services as well as the use of a hotel room for the event.
The review said Ocasio-Cortez paid for the items, including the rental value of the dress, only after the watchdog office started its review. Investigators said that if the office hadn’t opened the inquiry, “it appears that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez may not have paid for several thousands of dollars’ worth of goods and services provided to her.”
Ocasio-Cortez told investigators she was not privy to the details about the payments, relying instead on a campaign staffer to handle the matter. She also told the office “there was a ball that was dropped," calling the situation “deeply regrettable.”
The congresswoman’s office said in a statement Thursday that none of the findings rise to the level of an ethics violation because she has always "understood that she had to pay for these expenses from her own personal funds."
The issue has been that those costs have yet to be reimbursed, delays Ocasio-Cortez finds "unacceptable," the statement said. "And she has taken several steps to ensure nothing of this nature will happen again."
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Ocasio-Cortez made headlines at the star-studded fundraiser that year with the Brother Vellies dress. The ethics office's report noted that she did not pay any rental fee for the dress, and it added that Brother Vellies, designer Aurora James and Janna Pea of the public relations firm BerlinRosen declined to provide requested information to investigators and therefore did not cooperate with the review. The report recommended that the House Committee on Ethics subpoena them.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Met Gala dress: AOC might have violated House rules, watchdog says