Far-left progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been under scrutiny for her Marxist "Tax the Rich" apparel and attendance at the annual Met Gala charity event in 2021 over allegations that she may have violated certain House ethics rules with regard to gifts received.
Formal complaints led to an investigation by the House Office of Congressional Ethics, and it issued a report earlier this month which asserted that the New York congresswoman likely received "impermissible gifts" in violation of not just House ethics rules but also federal law, the Conservative Brief reported.
The report further detailed how Ocasio-Cortez had initially not paid the bills for the items and services she received in connection with that event and that payments may not ever have been made had OCE not opened its investigation of the matter.
"Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may have accepted impermissible gifts associated with her attendance at the Met Gala in 2021," the 18-page OCE report stated. "If Rep. Ocasio-Cortez accepted impermissible gifts, then she may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law."
"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 report continued.
OCE proceeded to detail how the review began in February 2022, all of the individuals it corresponded with as part of the probe, and the various applicable federal laws, House rules, and standards of conduct that may have been violated, as well as pertinent background information on the annual Met Gala and the congresswoman's attendance.
Of particular note in the OCE report were all of the various rental items and services received in connection with her attendance, including a specially designed evening gown with matching handbag, shoes, and jewelry from designer Brothers Vellies, hair and makeup services, rooms at the Carlyle Hotel, and transportation to and from the event.
The report further detailed how, until OCE opened its review, almost none of the bills for those things had been paid by Ocasio-Cortez's staffer who'd been tasked with that assignment, even as several of the providers had repeatedly demanded payment, and questions were raised about an inexplicable and massive reduction in the bill from the designer that was reduced from more than $2,283 to just $990.
All told, as of April 2022, roughly six months after the gala event, there were more than $5,579 worth of unpaid bills for goods and services, which was eventually paid in full in May of that year.
Interestingly enough, OCE noted throughout its report that designer Brothers Vellies had largely refused to cooperate with the probe and recommended that they be subpoenaed and compelled to testify before the House Ethics Committee as part of the continued investigation into whether Ocasio-Cortez violated certain federal laws, House rules, and standards of conduct.
"Though no Ethics violation has been found, the Office of Congressional Ethics ('OCE') did identify that there were delays in paying vendors for costs associated with the Congresswoman’s attendance at the Met Gala," Ocasio-Cortez's office said in a statement to NBC News following the release of the report. "The Congresswoman finds these delays unacceptable, and she has taken several steps to ensure nothing of this nature will happen again."
"However, while regrettable, these delayed payments definitively do not rise to the level of a violation of House Rules. Even after OCE’s exhaustive review of the Congresswoman’s personal communications, there is no record of the Congresswoman refusing to pay for these expenses," the statement added. "To the contrary, there are several explicit, documented communications, from prior to OCE’s review, that show the Congresswoman understood that she had to pay for these expenses from her own personal funds -- as she ultimately did."
Nevertheless, the New York Post reported that the two different watchdog groups who had filed formal complaints against the congresswoman, the American Accountability Foundation and the National Legal and Policy Center, both issued statements of appreciation for the OCE report as well as their hope that the House Ethics Committee would follow OCE's lead and actually take action to hold Ocasio-Cortez accountable.
Per NLPC counsel Paul Kamenar, "Those penalties can include a fine, reprimand, censure, or expulsion from the House, and a referral to other enforcement agencies, including the Federal Election Commission if AOC’s repayment of the services came from her campaign account instead of her personal account as it appeared to be."