House Ethics Committee Is Investigating AOC

She didn't pay for Met Gala dress, services until after ethics review began
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2023 6:48 AM CST

Almost 18 months after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared at the Met Gala, the "Tax the Rich" dress she wore is at the center of an ethics controversy. The House Ethics Committee says it has extended a review of the Democratic lawmaker over alleged impermissible gifts, NBC reports. According to a June 2022 report from the nonpartisan House Office of Congressional Ethics that has now been made public, there is "substantial reason to believe" Ocasio-Cortez received thousands of dollars in "impermissible gifts" for the event, including "a couture dress, handbag, shoes, and jewelry," along with "hair, makeup, transportation, and ready-room services." The report said items and services had been provided by publisher Conde Nast and fashion brand Brother Vellies, among others.

The items and services for Ocasio-Cortez and partner Riley Roberts came to almost $6,000, well above the limit for gifts to lawmakers set out in federal law, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the ethics report, 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" —but the payment wasn't made until after the ethics office contacted her, suggesting she "may not have paid for several thousands of dollars’ worth of goods and services provided to her" if there had been no review. "When asked about the delays in payments for the variety of goods and services described above, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez acknowledged 'there was a ball that was dropped' and described the situation as "deeply regrettable,'" the OCE report states.

In a statement, House Ethics Committee chair Rep. Michael Guest and Rep. Susan Wild, the ranking Democrat, said the extension of the committee's review, which is separate from the OCE review, "does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee." USA Today reports that Ocasio-Cortez's office said in a statement that the report's findings didn't amount to an ethics violation because she has always "understood that she had to pay for these expenses from her own personal funds." (More Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stories.)

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