The House Committee on Ethics announced on Wednesday that it is actively investigating Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and will reveal how it will conduct the probe after its organization meeting following the beginning of the next Congress next month.
The New York Democrat known as “AOC” has been a member of the “Squad” since first being elected to the House in 2018. The Squad is an informal group of young progressive House members who promote leftist policies, including AOC and Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Cori Bush (D-MO), and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY).
🚨BREAKING: AOC is under a House Ethics Investigation pic.twitter.com/FFHfinqFJm
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) December 7, 2022
The Ethics Committee did not release any specifics about the investigation in Wednesday’s statement. The committee’s process began in June when the Office of Congressional Ethics provided notice it had initiated an inquiry into AOC.
The Office of Congressional Ethics is a nonpartisan agency established by Congress. It is required to receive complaints from the public about potentially unethical behavior by representatives and refer those that are facially valid to the House Ethics Committee. The committee then decides whether to dismiss the complaint or investigate it further.
The announcement published Wednesday noted that the existence of an investigation “does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the committee.” Acting Chair Susan Wild (D-PA) and Ranking Member Michael Guest (R-MS) signed the announcement.
AOC spokesperson Lauren Hitt told reporters, “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.”
AOC was the subject of an ethics complaint last year related to the exclusive Met Gala held each year in New York City. Although tickets reportedly cost at least $30,000 each, the congresswoman accepted free admission for herself and her boyfriend to the star-studded celebrity event.
She defended her acceptance of free tickets at the time by saying, “New York elected officials are routinely invited to and attend the Met due to our responsibilities in overseeing and supporting the city’s cultural institutions for the public.”
She faced a second ethics complaint arising from the Met Gala related to the infamous evening dress she wore to the event. A complaint alleged that accepting the white designer dress with the slogan “Tax the Rich” written across it constitued an impermissible gift. The complaint alleged that the free dress was “directly related to AOC’s ‘position with the House’ as a highly visible and controversial Member.”