by Andrew Kerr
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may have violated a myriad of House ethics rules for attending the ritzy Met Gala on Monday evening while wearing a “tax the rich” dress, a conservative watchdog group alleged in a complaint obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The watchdog group, National Legal and Policy Center, alleged in a complaint filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics on Thursday that Ocasio-Cortez’s acceptance of free tickets to the event, which reportedly run at $35,000 apiece, for both herself and her boyfriend violated House Gift Rules. The group also alleged that Ocasio-Cortez received a prohibited gift from a paid attendee of the Met Gala by sitting at a sponsored table during the event, which are reportedly valued at up to $300,000.
In addition, the watchdog group alleged that Ocasio-Cortez may have accepted prohibited in-kind gifts due to her use of her custom-designed “tax the rich” dress and other services and amenities.
“Representative Ocasio-Cortez may have violated the House Gift Rule by accepting free admission for herself and boyfriend to the Met Gala event and receiving related gifts before, during, or after the event, including the use of custom-designed dress, limousine service, the use of the Carlyle Hotel, professional hair and makeup services, and any other related services or goods,” stated the NLPC’s complaint, which was filed by the group’s counsel, Paul Kamenar.
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the charity that receives the proceeds of the Met Gala, told the DCNF that Ocasio-Cortez and other elected officials that attended the Monday evening event were “guests of the Museum.”And Ocasio-Cortez said on Instagram after the event that she “borrowed” her dress from its designer, and that her attendance at the gala was in line with her “responsibilities in overseeing our city’s cultural institutions that serve the public.”
The NLPC is the second watchdog group to demand an ethics investigation into Ocasio-Cortez’s attendance at the Met Gala this week.
Another conservative watchdog group, the American Accountability Foundation, filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics on Tuesday arguing that Ocasio-Cortez was not permitted to accept free tickets for the Met Gala because a for-profit company, Conde Nast, manages invitations to the charity event.
The NLPC added in its complaint filed Thursday Ocasio-Cortez may have also violated gift rules by sitting at a sponsored table during the event.
“In short, it is the table sponsor who is gifting or underwriting a coveted seat to AOC at the Gala,” the complaint states. “And if the sponsor of the table where AOC sat was one paid for by one of the corporations attending the event, such as Instagram or Facebook, AOC has received a prohibited gift from the corporation that also lobbies Congress.”
The complaint also highlighted potential issues surrounding Ocasio-Cortez’s boyfriend, Riley Roberts, attending the Met Gala for free alongside the lawmaker, noting that the House Gift Rule permits lawmakers to only provide a second ticket to a charity fundraiser, their spouse or dependent child.
“Thus, because her boyfriend is not her ‘spouse or dependent,’ her acceptance of an ‘invite plus one’ to the Met Gala would violate the Gift Rule unless AOC or her boyfriend paid for his $35,000 ticket, an unlikely scenario,” the NLPC’s complaint states.
Ocasio-Cortez’s use of a custom “tax the rich” dress, even if borrowed only for the duration of the event, also violates the House Gift Rule because the dress designer had to devote “valuable professional services in designing and making this one-of-a-kind dress,” the NLPC stated in its complaint.
Notably, neither of the complaints filed this week by the NLPC or the AAF demanded an investigation into Ocasio-Cortez’s fellow Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who also attended the Met Gala on Monday evening wearing a dress with the slogan, “equal rights for women.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s office did not return a request for comment.
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Andrew Kerr is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Tax the Rich” by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.