The Board of the Office of Congressional Ethics has recommended that the they further investigate allegations that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may have accepted impermissible gifts associated with her attendance at the Met Gala in 2021. This would violate House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law.
The board concluded: “Based on the foregoing information, the Board finds that there is substantial reason to believe that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez accepted impermissible gifts associated with her attendance at the Met Gala. 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..”
The recommendation was made by a vote of 5 in favor and 0 against, and the Board’s designated member will present the report to the Committee.
The report released on Thursday wrote:
SUBJECT: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
NATURE OF THE ALLEGED VIOLATION: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may have accepted impermissible gifts associated with her attendance at the Met Gala in 2021. If Rep. Ocasio Cortez accepted impermissible gifts, then she may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law.
RECOMMENDATION: 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 Met Gala is an annual event hosted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to raise funds for its Costume Institute, which houses a collection of over 33,000 fashion objects spanning seven centuries. The Gala is the primary source of annual funding for the Costume Institute’s exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, operations, and capital improvements.
In 2021, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez attended the Met Gala and received a couture dress, handbag, shoes, and jewelry, as well as hair, makeup, transportation, and ready-room services.
It appears that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez did not pay for the rental value of the attire or for the goods and services until after the Office of Congressional Ethics contacted her about the review. Had the review not been opened, it is possible that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez would not have paid for several thousands of dollars’ worth of goods and services provided to her.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez told the Office of Congressional Ethics that she would pay for the services received at the Met Gala with her personal funds, but a campaign staffer was responsible for making the actual payments. Although the services have now been paid for, it appears that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez did not pay for them until after the review was initiated. Despite efforts to address compliance concerns beforehand, it seems that several thousands of dollars’ worth of services may have gone unpaid if not for the OCE’s review. The report provides further details on the goods and services provided to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and when and how payment was made.
The Campaign Staffer did not provide a clear explanation for the delays in payments for the services received by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. The staffer stated that it had fallen off her radar and that she often received emails from Streeters when she couldn’t focus on their payment requests. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez periodically followed up with the staffer about paying for the hairstyling services, but was not aware of the company’s escalating payment demands at the time.
The Wall Group repeatedly attempted to secure payment from Campaign Staffer for hairstyling services provided to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, noting that the invoice was overdue. Campaign Staffer attempted to pay the outstanding bill on February 24, 2022, two days after the OCE first contacted Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s staff, but the payment was rejected. The payment was finally made on March 16, 2022. Campaign Staffer did not provide a clear explanation for the delay in payment.
During a review, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s team found unpaid transportation services provided by Condé Nast for her participation in Vogue’s Met Gala video shoot. The team determined an appropriate payment of $180. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez acknowledged the situation as “deeply regrettable” and admitted to a “ball that was dropped” regarding delays in payments for various goods and services.