An ethics complaint has been filed against Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York over her attendance at the Met Gala on Monday, where she wore the words “Tax the Rich” on her gown.
Thomas Jones, founder of the American Accountability Foundation, filed the complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics on Tuesday calling for an investigation.
The focus of the complaint was not on the dress but on the self-described socialist’s attendance at the event.
What makes @AOC a bigger fraud:
The “tax the rich” dress while she’s hanging out with a bunch of wealthy leftwing elites or the lack of masks after spending the past 18 months as one of the biggest authoritarian mask Karens in the country? https://t.co/pE84Pjquh1
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 14, 2021
“Specifically, we believe Representative Ocasio-Cortez has violated clause 5 of Rule XXV of the Rules of the House of Representatives (commonly known as the Gift Rule) by accepting admission to the Met Gala, an event whose per seat costs is reported to range from $35,000 to $50,000, without having a permissible exemption to allow the acceptance of the lavish gift,” he wrote of the big-ticket New York City fundraiser.
Although media accounts said Ocasio-Cortez was given a freebie, the complaint said, “If Representative Occasion-Cortez has used campaign funds to pay for this ticket, she has also violated FEC prohibitions on campaign funds being used for entertainment purposes.”
The complaint relies upon a report in The New York Times that highlighted the rules of the event, which the report noted is operated by the firm Conde Nast.
And before haters get wild flying off the handle, New York elected officials are routinely invited to and attend the Met due to our responsibilities in overseeing and supporting the city’s cultural institutions for the public. I was one of several in attendance in this evening.🤗
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 14, 2021
Ocasio-Cortez has tried to imply that hobnobbing with millionaires was part of her official work.
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In a tweet on Tuesday, the congresswoman said that “before haters get wild flying off the handle, New York elected officials are routinely invited to and attend the Met due to our responsibilities in overseeing and supporting the city’s cultural institutions for the public. I was one of several in attendance in this evening.”
“Since Representative Ocasio-Cortez is defining her attendance at the Met Gala to be part of her official activities, the receipt of the gift must fall under the widely-attended event or charity event exemptions as defined in House Rule 25.5(a)(4),” the American Accountability Foundation complaint said.
“On the widely-attended event exemption, House Ethics Guidance states, the event, ‘be open to the public or to a wide range of individuals,'” it said.
The complaint noted that the invitation list is a closely held secret and that only a select few are invited.
It said that although the event raises money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “the Met does not have control over who is invited to the event, but rather the for-profit company, is in control of who gets invited,” which means the charity event exception does not apply.
The complaint said there is the potential for a conflict of interest because Instagram was a major sponsor of the gala.
“Instagram is subject to heavy regulation and legislation in Congress and by sponsoring the secretive invite only Gala, Instagram was able to purchase access to Representative Ocasio-Cortez that is unavailable to average citizens,” it said.
“Further Representative Ocasio-Cortez has yet to disclose who sponsored the table she sat at, a party that would have had extended uninterrupted access to lobbying the Representative on any number of policy issues,” the complaint said.
“To assure the public that there was no improper benefit received, Representative Ocasio-Cortez must disclose all correspondence and interactions she had with companies and individuals in securing an invitation to the Met Gala as part of your investigation,” it said.
The complaint further said that if Ocasio-Cortez used campaign funds for costs associated with the event, it is not a legal use of those funds because it was an entertainment event.
“Without prompt investigation and enforcement of Congressional Rules, the American people are likely to lose faith in the ability of Congress to police its members,” it said.
In a news release about its complaint, the American Accountability Foundation said that “there are serious questions about whether or not her ticket — donated or purchased with campaign funds — was permissible under the code of congressional ethics. A simple reading of House Rules suggests that she violated the longstanding gift rule, clause 5 of Rule XXV.”
“AOC took this opportunity to display a tone-deaf ‘tax the rich’ slogan on her custom-made designer gown while rubbing elbows with wealthy Hollywood celebrities and influencers — a group not selected by the Met, but handpicked by Anna Wintour and Conde Nast,” the organization said.
“As a for-profit company, Conde Nast fails to meet any definition of a charitable organization and debunks AOC’s claim that her attendance was legitimate or subject to any exemption from the House’s gift rule.”
“These rules exist for a reason. Without strict adherence, we run the risk of corruption in the halls of Congress and public officials serving others over their constituents.
“Government has a responsibility to its citizens, and integrity and accountability should be our foremost concern.”
Fox News reported that Ocasio-Cortez’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the complaint.
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