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A new report published on Tuesday suggests that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may be facing some serious legal trouble after she was referred to the House Ethics Committee earlier this month, though it isn’t clear whether she is about to face any charges.
“Pursuant to House Rule XI, clause 3(b)(8)(A), and Committee Rules 17A(b)(1)(A),17A(c)(1), and 17A(j), the Acting Chairwoman and Acting Ranking Member of the Committee on Ethics have jointly decided to extend the matter regarding Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which was transmitted to the Committee by the Office of Congressional Ethics on June 23, 2022,” said a press release from the committee on Dec. 7.
“The Committee notes that the mere fact of a referral or an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee. The Committee will announce its course of action in this matter following its organizational meeting and adoption of Committee Rules in the 118 th Congress,” the release noted further.
“The Congresswoman has always taken ethics incredibly seriously, refusing any donations from lobbyists, corporations, or other special interests,” a spokesperson for the Congresswoman said. “We are confident that this matter will be dismissed.”
The committee did not provide any further details as to what the complaint was about. But an analysis from the website 1945 said that it is possible she could be in trouble for accepting a gift she should not have taken.
“It has been widely suspected that it was the result of a September 2021 complaint filed by the Americans Accountability Foundation ‘for accepting an impermissible gift’ to attend the Met Gala,” the site noted. “AOC had made considerable waves not for just attending the high-profile Met Gala, where tickets for the social event cost a reported $35,000, but for her choice to wear a designer dress emblazoned with the slogan ‘Tax the Rich.'”
— Vanessa Friedman (@VVFriedman) September 14, 2021
She reportedly was invited as a guest of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and did not keep the dress. The New York Congresswoman, who won her seat in 2018 following a shock primary victory over Joe Crowley, a senior House Democrat, quickly emerged as a leading figure among progressives. Ethics watchdogs have accused AOC of violating House rules by improperly accepting other gifts.
Lawmakers are, in fact, allowed under chamber regulations to take free tickets to charity events directly from organizers — and The New York Post has reported that Ocasio-Cortez and her now-fiancé Riley Roberts were directly invited by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Yet, some watchdogs counter that the allowance wouldn’t apply to the Met Gala, since the invitations are controlled by a for-profit company – in this case, media conglomerate Conde Nast – while the tables, which cost $300,000, are sponsored by corporate entities.
The American Accountability Foundation has alleged that Meta-owned Instagram bought access to AOC that ordinary constituents could not do by sponsoring a table for her at the Met.
Meanwhile, a second ethics complaint was filed by the National Legal and Policy Center regarding the dress. The Brother Vellies gown amounted to an impermissible gift because it was “directly related to AOC’s ‘position with the House’ as a highly visible and controversial Member,” the complaint alleges, according to 1945. “If AOC had not been a Member, she would not have been invited to the Gala, and even if she would have been invited as a private citizen, the designer would not have made a special dress for her to wear at the event,” the complaint noted further.
“Then there is the fact that even if she didn’t keep the actual dress, she was gifted fashion accessories and provided various grooming services, which could be the issue in this case. If that wasn’t the least of her problems, it should be noted there have been other complaints that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has failed to file required financial disclosure forms on time,” the outlet added.