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According to a statement released Wednesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. While the statement was vague about the reason behind the investigation, it did announce that the Office of Congressional Ethics forwarded an inquiry regarding Ocasio-Cortez to the Ethics Committee on June 23, 2022. The inquiry suggested that Ocasio-Cortez had violated the House Ethics rules.
According to the Committee's statement, Acting Chairwoman Susan Wild (D-PA) and Acting Ranking Member Michael Guest (R-MI) "jointly decided to extend the matter regarding Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which was transmitted to the Committee by the Office of Congressional Ethics on June 23, 2022." While an inquiry has been made to the Ethics Committee, the statement said, "The Committee notes that the mere fact of a referral or an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee." The statement went on to note that it will announce its course of action after its organizational meeting and adoption of Committee Rules in the 118th Congres.
While the Committee's statement did not say specifically what the focus of the investigation is, several ethics watchdog organizations filed complaints against Ocasio-Cortez due to her attendance at the Met Gala last year. the organizations claim that Ocasio-Cortez received "an impermissible gift" when she attended the 2021 Met Gala for free, while tickets were reportedly between $35,000 and $50,000.
The House Ethics rules prevent members of Congress from accepting gifts unless they fall under specific exemptions such as "widely attended events" or charity functions. In a September 2021 complaint regarding Ocasio-Cortez, the American Accountability Foundation wrote, "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."
Despite the pending investigation by the House Ethics Committee, Ocasio-Cortez's office is "confident" that the investigation will be dismissed with the Congresswoman's spokeswoman, Lauren Hitt telling Business Insider, "The Congresswoman has always taken ethics incredibly seriously, refusing any donations from lobbyists, corporations, or other special interests. We are confident that this matter will be dismissed."
The full focus of the investigation and the Ethics Committee's course of action won't be known until the next Congress is in session.
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