The House Ethics Committee is investigating New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it announced Wednesday, without revealing the purpose of its probe.
That said, there is, of course, some speculation on the matter, with the most prominent rumor pertaining to the lawmaker's presence at the 2021 Met Gala. At the time, Ocasio-Cortez instantly ruffled feathers with her designer "Tax the Rich" dress, a (somewhat ironic) message upon which Republicans instantly seized. But two ethics complaints later followed, alleging the lawmaker broke the House's Gift Rule by accepting what may have been free tickets to the gala and/or by wearing the designer dress. Further, if Ocasio-Cortez "used campaign funds to pay for this ticket, she has also violated FEC prohibitions on campaign funds being used for entertainment purposes," Thomas Jones, founder of the conservative American Accountability Foundation, added in his complaint.
Disclosure of the probe "does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred or reflect any judgement," the committee said in its announcement, noting the referral came through in June and that it plans to share he findings of its investigation sometime next year.
Ocasio-Cortez maintains she has "always taken ethics incredibly seriously, refusing any donations from lobbyists, corporations or other special interests," a spokesperson said. "We are confident that this matter will be dismissed."
Politifact previously reported that Ocasio-Cortez did not pay for her ticket to the gala (she was a guest), nor did she get to keep the dress; she borrowed it. Designers and corporate sponsors typically cover the cost of gala admission, and New York City elected officials are invited "as 'guests of the museum' who do not pay to attend," said The New York Times.