Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez only paid for her rented Met Gala outfit after the House of Representatives’ ethics office asked about it.
The ethics office also found AOC had initially failed to pay for her hairstylist and makeup artist.
Ocasio-Cortez blamed a campaign staffer for not paying the invoices on time.
New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez only paid for her rented Met Gala outfit after the House of Representatives’ ethics office asked about it, according to a nonpartisan ethics agency.
The Office of Congressional Ethics found that Ocasio-Cortez’s staff didn’t initially pay for the rented dress, which featured the words “Tax the Rich” in red letters.
AOC’s office also failed to pay her makeup artist even though her office was warned that the payments were “EXTREMEMLY [sic] overdue,” the agency alleged.
The nonpartisan ethics agency found that Ocasio-Cortez’s office didn’t pay her $477 hair styling bill until February 2022, two days after the ethics agency reached out about the lack of payments.
In an interview with the investigators, Ocasio-Cortez blamed a campaign staffer for failing to pay for her dress and other accessories, according to ethics office findings.
“And I just never, ever, ever would have allowed that to happen knowing what I have learned, but that I wasn’t privy to the invoices, wasn’t privy to the ones that had been sent,” she told investigators, “And it is just a deeply regrettable situation. I feel l terrible for especially the small businesses that were impacted.”
Adding to that, she admitted to investigators she believed “there was a ball that was dropped.”
The OCE appeared to agree, and said it found “that there is substantial reason to believe that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez accepted impermissible gifts associated with her attendance at the Met Gala in 2021.”
In a statement, Ocasio-Cortez’s lawyer said the star Democratic congresswoman “finds these [payment] delays unacceptable, and she has taken several steps to ensure nothing of this nature will ever happen again.”
“However, while regrettable, this matter definitively does not rise to the level of a violation of House Rules or of federal law. Even after OCE’s exhaustive review of the Congresswoman’s personal communications, there is no evidence that she ever intended to avoid these expenses,” the statement continued.
The House Ethics Committee first opened a probe into Ocasio-Cortez’s attendance at the 2021 Met Gala in 2022, but her spokesperson, Lauren Hitt, was mum as to what the investigation was about.
“The Congresswoman has always taken ethics incredibly seriously, refusing any donations from lobbyists, corporations, or other special interests,” Hitt said in 2022.
Correction March 2, 2023: An earlier version of this story misstated which Met Gala bill was flagged as overdue. The notice cited in the ethics office complaint referred to Ocasio-Cortez’s makeup bill, not her rented dress bill.
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