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There is “substantial reason to believe” that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) accepted “impermissible gifts” in connection to her attendance at the Met Gala in 2021, according to a newly disclosed report from the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).
The OCE Board voted unanimously in June of last year to recommend further investigation by the House Committee on Ethics into the matter as Ocasio-Cortez “may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law,” per the report.
“The Board recommends that the Committee further review the above allegation concerning Rep. Ocasio-Cortez because there is substantial reason to believe that she accepted impermissible gifts associated with her attendance at the Met Gala in 2021,” the report says.
The report was released on Thursday by leaders of the House Committee on Ethics who said they received a referral about Ocasio-Cortez’s conduct in June of last year. They jointly decided on December 7, 2022, to extend the committee’s review of the matter, according to a press release.
“The Committee notes that the mere fact of conducting further review of a referral, and any mandatory disclosure of such further review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee,” the House Committee on Ethics leaders said.
David Mitrani, Ocasio-Cortez’s counsel, issued a response in a letter which noted the OCE identified 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 ever happen again,” Mitrani said.
His letter to the House Committee on Ethics, dated February 27, also claims that no ethics violations were found.
“However, while regrettable, this matter definitively does not rise to the level of a violation of House Rules or of federal law,” Mitrani wrote. “Even after OCE’s exhaustive review of the Congresswoman’s personal communications, there is no evidence that she ever intended to avoid these expenses. To the contrary, the record clearly shows that the Congresswoman always understood that she had to pay for these expenses personally – and she even worked with the undersigned counsel prior to the event to ensure that she complied with all applicable ethics rules.”
“We are confident the Committee on Ethics will dismiss this matter,” Mitrani concluded.
The House Committee on Ethics first confirmed its investigation in December after two groups — the American Accountability Foundation and the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) — filed complaints to the OCE alleging Ocasio-Cortez improperly accepted free gifts beyond what House rules allow for members attending charity events. The OCE says it is “an independent, non-partisan entity” charged with reviewing allegations of misconduct within the House of Representatives which may then be sent to the Committee on Ethics.
The OCE report says Ocasio-Cortez was invited to and attended the Met Gala with her partner, Riley Roberts. Tickets to the star-studded event hosted by Vogue editor-in-chief and Condé Nast’s global chief content officer Anna Wintour, which took place in September 2021 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, reportedly cost at least $30,000. Ocasio-Cortez wore a “Tax the Rich” dress made by designer Aurora James, whose Brother Vellies fashion brand rented to the couple with other items, per OCE.
“As part of her attendance, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was provided with a couture dress, handbag, shoes, and jewelry,” the report says. “She also received hair, makeup, transportation, and ready-room services. Riley Roberts received a bowtie and shoes in advance of the event.”
The report goes on to indicate suspicion that Ocasio-Cortez would not have paid thousands of dollars worth of services, as she told OCE she would do, if not for the OCE review.
“While Rep. 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 she and her partner received in connection with this September 2021 event, payment for these goods and services did not occur until after the OCE contacted her in connection with this review,” the report says. “But for the OCE opening this review, it appears that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez may not have paid for several thousands of dollars’ worth of goods and services provided to her.”
The OCE report says Ocasio-Cortez claimed to have relied on a campaign staffer to pay the bills. Ocasio-Cortez acknowledged “there was a ball that was dropped” and described the situation as “deeply regrettable,” the report says.
The OCE report also states James, Brother Vellies, and Janna Pea, a publicist associated with Brother Vellies, refused to cooperate with its review. Although the office recommended subpoenas, it’s unclear whether the House ethics panel has issued any subpoenas.
The Daily Wire reached out to Brother Vellies for comment.
“NLPC is pleased that the Office of Congressional Ethics released the results of its investigation of our 2021 complaint against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and unanimously concluded that she received illegal gifts associated with her attending the Met Gala Ball in 2021 in the form of her famous ‘Tax the Rich’ dress, makeup, jewelry, limo services, and other services,” Paul Kamenar, counsel for NLPC, told The Daily Wire.
“The House Ethics Committee will now pick up the recommendation to issue subpoenas to the parties who refused to cooperate with OCE and impose appropriate penalties on AOC,” Kamenar added.”Those penalties can include a fine, reprimand, censure, or expulsion from the House, and a referral to other enforcement agencies, including the Federal Election Commission if AOC’s repayment of the services came from her campaign account instead of her personal account as it appeared to be.”