While the House Committee on Ethics has extended its investigation into Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for an undisclosed matter, some media outlets speculated that it could be in relation to having attended the Met Gala.
The Bronx-born 33-year-old, who represents the New York’s 14th district, isn’t the only state official to be the focus of an investigation led by the Office of Congressional Ethics. Late last month the committee announced that it had extended an investigation into how another New York politician, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), came to attend the 2016 Met Gala after initially being crossed off the list. She had attended the event several times through the years.
In a press release, the House Ethics Committee said, “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.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who is more commonly known as “AOC,” attended the Met Gala in 2021. In response, the American Accountability Foundation filed a complaint against her for attending the Met Gala as part of her “official duties.”
Press representatives for the congresswoman did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. A spokesperson for Ocasio-Cortez told other media that “…we are confident that this matter will be dismissed.”
Asked for comment regarding the House Ethics Committee’s investigation into Ocasio-Cortez, a spokesman for the Met declined comment. As for whether the museum’s policy about inviting select community leaders and politicians to the event will change in any way, the spokesperson said the Met will continue its practice of inviting “select officeholders to the event.”
House members are allowed to attend charitable events for free, as long as the event’s primary purpose is to raise funds for an organization that is qualified to receive tax-deductible contributions, and if the organization — and not another source such as a corporate sponsor — extends the invitation, according to the U.S. House Committee on Ethics’ gift guidance guidelines.
Ocasio-Cortez made a serious fashion statement at the Met Gala in 2021, wearing a strapless white gown imprinted with “Tax the Rich” in red lettering. The dress was designed by Brothers Vellies founder Aurora James, who accompanied the congresswoman to the event. The Democratic congresswoman’s appearance on the red carpet gained global headlines and some criticism, with some pundits and voters questioning the irony of attending such a pricey formal event. Individual tickets are $35,000 and tables cost $200,000.
The Met Gala, which is the annual benefit for the Costume Institute, was a record-breaking fundraiser in 2016, raking in $16.75 million, when Maloney attended. Each year big-name designers, celebrities, musicians, pro athletes and other headline-grabbers traipse up the Upper East Side museum’s carpeted steps to attend the seated dinner.
Executives at Brothers Vellies did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday or Thursday.
Maloney, who serves as the House Oversight Committee chairwoman and is set to retire this month, declined to comment regarding the AOC investigation, according to her spokesperson.
Last month Maloney’s spokesperson told WWD that the congresswoman is “confident” that the House Ethics Committee will dismiss the matter, and noted it “has not made any determination a violation occurred.”