Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York is facing an investigation by the House Committee on Ethics, according to the panel’s press release.
Few details about the inquiry were given. However, the press release explained that the nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) had passed the matter to the panel on June 23. The House Committee announced it was extending the review of the OCE complaint against Rep. Ocasio-Cortez.
“The Committee notes that 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 indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee,” emphasized the panel.
The inquiry’s extension comes ahead of the January swearing-in of the 118th Congress. The committee’s next steps will not be announced until the new year after Republicans have regained the House majority. Committee rules require that the details of the original OCE referral be eventually released.
Ocasio-Cortez’s spokesperson was confident the matter would be dismissed. “The Congresswoman has always taken ethics incredibly seriously, refusing any donations from lobbyists, corporations, or other special interests,” said the spokesperson.
Last year, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), an ethics watchdog group, called for a review of Ocasio-Cortez’s attendance at the Met Gala. The representative caused a stir at the event by wearing a dress emblazoned with the slogan, “Tax the Rich.” FACT underscored that House Rule 25 imposed restrictions on the types of gifts Congressional members can receive.
FACT implored the House Committee on Ethics to investigate the matter. However, it is unclear if the controversy over the Met Gala is connected to the investigation. Other members of New York’s delegation, including outgoing Democrat Representative Carolyn Maloney, also landed into the debate over the Met Gala.
AOC, Maloney referred to the Committee on Ethics on the same day
The Office of Congressional Ethics previously revealed that it “transmitted a referral to the Committee on Ethics” for Maloney on the same date given for Ocasio-Cortez’s referral, which was noted in the press release.
FACT pointed out the reports that Ocasio-Cortez was given tickets typically valued around $35,000 each, and Ocasio-Cortez claims she “borrowed” the designer dress to attend.
“The gift rule for Members of Congress is very clear and is the 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 serves several important purposes,” said FACT Executive Director Kendra Arnold.
Maloney chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and has weathered controversy that she called with a request for an invitation to the gala, which “had decided not to invite her to that year’s event.” Maloney has denied any wrongdoing.