House Ethics Panel Says AOC May Have Broken the Law – The circumstances surrounding Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (or AOC) attendance – and, more importantly, her wardrobe choices and cost – at the exclusive 2021 Met Gala last year may have broken federal law and House rules, the bipartisan Board of the Office of Congressional Ethics decided in a 5-0 vote several months back. To this day, the mater is not resolved.
“…[T]he Board finds that there is substantial reason to believe that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez accepted impermissible gifts associated with her attendance at the Met Gala,” the Board of the Office of Congressional Ethics found in its ruling, released Thursday. “Accordingly, the Board recommends that the Committee further review the above allegation that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez accepted impermissible gifts associated with her attendance at the Met Gala.”
What Did AOC Do?
The rental of her “Tax the Rich” dress cost $1,200. The matching shoes cost $635. The handbag rental cost $170 for a total of $2,283, including sales tax. A Sept. 9, 2021, bill was provided by a publicist for Brother Vellies, which provided Ocasio-Cortez’ outfit for the Met Gala, to one of the congresswoman’s campaign staffers.
A revised bill dated Sept. 20 reduced the gown rental to $300 and the overall rental to $990. The committee interviewed the campaign staffer about the discrepancy between the first bill and the second bill, and was unable to explain the change. Brother Vellies declined to cooperate with the committee.
AOC was supposed to have paid the invoice for the rental but only did so after the committee began its investigation. The rental company and the woman who did the congresswoman’s hair identified $5,799.99 worth of unpaid bills related to Ocasio-Cortez’s gown rental, transportation, room rental, and shoes and boetie rented by Ocasio-Cortez’s boyfriend.
Conde Nast Transportation paid the outstanding $5,799 on May 10, 2022.
The report stated that “Rep. Ocasio-Cortez may not have paid for several thousands of dollars’ worth of goods and services provided to her” had it not been for the committee investigation.
House rules prohibit members of Congress from accepting any “gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value.” This includes “gifts of services, training, transportation, lodging, and meals, whether provided in kind, by purchase of a ticket, payment in advance, or reimbursement after the expense has been incurred.”
AOC Strikes Back
The congresswoman disputes that her delayed payment equaled the services being impermissible gifts. Ocasio-Cortez’s office rebutted the report in a statement to NBC News:
“Though no Ethics violation has been found, the Office of Congressional Ethics (‘OCE’) did identify that there were delays in paying vendors for costs associated with the Congresswoman’s attendance at the Met Gala. The Congresswoman finds these delays unacceptable, and she has taken several steps to ensure nothing of this nature will happen again,” it said.
“However, while regrettable, these delayed payments definitively do not rise to the level of a violation of House Rules. Even after OCE’s exhaustive review of the Congresswoman’s personal communications, there is no record of the Congresswoman refusing to pay for these expenses. To the contrary, there are several explicit, documented communications, from prior to OCE’s review, that show the Congresswoman understood that she had to pay for these expenses from her own personal funds — as she ultimately did.”
The full House Ethics Committee will take up the case; however, Ocasio-Cortez likely will escape with a slap on the wrist.
John Rossomando’s work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award in 2008 for his reporting.