Ethics Watchdog Calls for an Investigation into Rep. Ocasio-Cortez regarding her Met Gala Attendance
Evidence Suggests Likely Gift Rule Violations Surrounding Her Attendance at the Met Gala
Washington, D.C.— September 17, 2021— The non-partisan ethics watchdog, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), requested the Office of Congressional Ethics immediately investigate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) for violating House ethics rules.
House Rule 25 prohibits a Member from accepting any gift unless the gift is specifically allowed under one of the listed exceptions. Per the House Rules, a “gift” is defined in “an extremely broad manner” and includes “a gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value.” It also includes “gifts of service, 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.
In what appears contrary to the gift rule, on September 13, 2021, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez attended the Met Gala, an event she described as “elite and inaccessible.” The event is held to raise funds for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, and tickets are valued at approximately $35,000 each. Ocasio-Cortez reportedly was gifted her ticket to the event and was seated “at the table of Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue and artistic director of Condé Nast, who is the longtime co-host of the gala.” Significantly, Ocasio-Cortez stated she "borrowed" a designer formal dress from a company and was also given jewelry from another company to wear at the event.
“The gift rule for Members of Congress is very clear and is in place for good reason. Members simply cannot accept anything of value that isn't on the short list of permitted items. This is a bedrock ethics rule and it serves several important purposes--it prevents Members from cashing in on their position, it prevents gift-givers from gaining influence, and it maintains the public trust. This is a case where the Member's own words should trigger an investigation--not only did she state that she did not pay for an item, she also implied that she was given the ticket because of her 'responsibilities in overseeing' the gift-giver. This entire situation is exactly what the House's gift rule is designed to prevent, and we request an immediate investigation into this matter by the Office of Congressional Ethics," said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director of FACT.
A full copy of the Ocasio-Cortez complaint can be found by clicking here
FACT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. For more on FACT, visit: http://www.factdc.org/