The U.S. Congress is currently investigating House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for her attendance at the 2021 Met Gala.
Ocasio-Cortez, a self-proclaimed socialist who advocates for taxing the wealthy, was given two Met Gala tickets for free for the $35,000-per-ticket event by Anna Wintour, the show-runner of the Gala.
According to her written invitation, Ocasio-Cortez and her partner were guests invited by Vogue. However, congressional lawmakers are prohibited from accepting gifts worth nearly seven figures from businesses that engage with lobbyists.
Ocasio-Cortez’s attendance at Met Gala raises ethics concerns
Ocasio-Cortez’s attendance at the event has sparked an ethics investigation into her actions. Her campaign staff alleged they requested tickets from Vogue and Ocasio-Cortez was able to attend the event for free.
However, members of Congress are only allowed to attend nonprofit events and the Met typically does not invite Congress members.
The congresswoman’s attorney provided reassurance to the congressional ethics officials that Ocasio-Cortez would personally cover any additional expenditures linked to the event, such as the rental of her dress, handbag, accessories, shoes, hair, makeup, transportation, and staging hotel room.
🚨BREAKING: The Office of Congressional Ethics has released a statement in which they say there is "substantial reason to believe" AOC "accepted impermissible associated with her attendance at the Met Gala in 2021" that violated "standards of conduct and federal law." pic.twitter.com/cR215TfY6J
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) March 2, 2023
To her advantage, Ocasio-Cortez obtained the services of a designer who gave her an haute couture dress with consultation, design, fittings, materials, and day-of styling. These were probably worth more than $10,000, yet for a price of $1,300, given the designer’s current financial struggles.
However, her campaign staff called the designer and bargained the price down to $300.
This caused controversy since the designer, Aurora James, who is known for her brand “Brother Vellies,” previously urged wealthy Americans to pay their “fair share” in taxes.
James defended her decision to lend the dress to Ocasio-Cortez, stating it was an opportunity to highlight the struggles of small businesses and the need for tax reform.
Apart from the dress, Ocasio-Cortez also had to pay for other expenses, such as shoes, hair, and makeup. Consequently, Ocasio-Cortez claimed she would personally pay for all other benefits associated with her attendance at the event.
Unpaid bills, conflicting statements further taint Ocasio-Cortez’s attendance
In addition to this, it appears several small businesses that provided services to Ocasio-Cortez have yet to be paid.
For instance, a makeup artist charged $344.85, which Ocasio-Cortez did not pay until six months after the ethics investigation commenced. The hairstylist charged $477.73 after several months of non-payment.
The representative of the hairstylist ultimately sent an email to Ocasio-Cortez’s staff, indicating that taking legal action against the congresswoman would be unsightly. The email implied the NY Department of Labor would be notified of the outstanding payment if it was not resolved.
Also, AOC's hairstylist for the met gala threatened to file a complaint with New York City’s Office of Labor Policy and Standards for Workers after the stylist's invoice went unpaid for five months.https://t.co/84sIWQrjFH pic.twitter.com/6R8poS3w2s
— Zach Everson (@Z_Everson) March 2, 2023
It was also reported that Ocasio-Cortez allegedly stated she bought her shoes for $635. However, it was later revealed she changed the billing from a purchase to a rental after the event.
As the investigation continues, Ocasio-Cortez has been under fire for her actions, both from her political opponents and her own supporters.