Congress should contemplate sanctioning Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for “so brazenly violating the housekeeping rules” during her Met Gala showing last year, the head of a conservative watchdog that filed a complaint against her says.
Thomas Jones, president and founder of the American Accountability Foundation, argued that Ocasio-Cortez should also use her personal funds to repay the roughly $35,000 ticket she allegedly was gifted to attend the fundraising gala, where she was an invited guest.
“The full House should seriously consider sanctioning her, but the first thing she should do is repay the gift … for so brazenly violating the housekeeping rules,” Jones told the Washington Examiner.
The American Accountability Foundation filed an ethics complaint against the congresswoman last year to the nonpartisan and independent Office of Congressional Ethics after Ocasio-Cortez stoked headlines at the gala by donning a dress with the slogan “Tax the Rich.”
On Wednesday, the House Committee on Ethics revealed that it had been examining an ethics complaint against Ocasio-Cortez relayed by the Office of Congressional Ethics on June 23.
The panel did not divulge specifics of the complaint and merely stated that it was extending its review of the unspecified matter. As a result, further details about the next steps from the committee will not come until next year, when Republicans retake the House. Committee rules generally require the eventual release of details of the original OCE referral.
Jones was unsure if the House Committee on Ethics’s review pertains to his Met Gala complaint and explained his understanding is that, typically, “you put the complaint in, and they don’t interact with you after that.”
Other groups, such as the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, or FACT, and the National Legal and Policy Center, raised similar ethics qualms over the Met Gala. Some detractors of Ocasio-Cortez, such as FACT, also zeroed in on claims she “borrowed” a designer dress for the gala.
“This is basically a private dinner, where you can buttonhole AOC and go talk to her about whatever your pet issue is out of the sight of anyone else,” Jones added. “You’re not supposed to be able to do that. So that’s problematic.”
Jones argued that if “you pull back the layers of the onion,” the Met Gala is not really an event run by the Metropolitan Museum of Art but rather an “event run and directed by a private organization that employs a lobbyist, specifically Conde Nast and more precisely, Anna Wintour.” He noted that some sponsors, such as Instagram, have been in the congressional crosshairs.
“If she wants to go, she needs [to write] a $35,000 check. You know, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t want to go that badly, making $175,000 a year,” Jones contended. “I hope that the committee makes her repay the $35,000 gift to the Metropolitan Museum of Art from her personal funds.”
He underscored that repayment should not stem from her campaign funds because such funds “are not to be used for personal entertainment and that is exactly what this was.”
Mirroring the ethics panel’s refraining from disclosing specifics about the House Committee on Ethics, a spokesperson for Ocasio-Cortez was confident that the matter would get dismissed.
“The Congresswoman has always taken ethics incredibly seriously, refusing any donations from lobbyists, corporations or other special interests,” the spokesperson said, Forbes reported.
Spokespeople for Ocasio-Cortez, the House Committee on Ethics, and the Office of Congressional Ethics declined to reveal details about the complaint when asked by the Washington Examiner.