The congressional ethics investigation into Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the latest brush with scandal for the 33-year-old progressive firebrand since entering public life.
Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee over an undisclosed matter. The committee does not comment on ongoing investigations but is expected to release a report next year detailing the matter and explaining whether federal law or House rules were broken.
While it’s not clear what the committee is investigating, the high-profile Ocasio-Cortez and her team have been the subject of several complaints over the last few years. In 2019, her chief of staff at the time was investigated by a federal agency after the center-right National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) filed a compliant.
The NLPC alleged that, between 2016 and 2017, a political action committee run by the aide had transferred more than $1 million to shell companies that were also controlled by the staffer. The conservative watchdog group alleged the transfers may have skirted federal election rules.
The investigation never led to any formal reprimand for Ocasio-Cortez’s aide.
Around the same, she came under fire after it emerged that her significant other had been given a House email account. The news raised concerns her significant other was on her office payroll, a fact that later emerged to be untrue.
Her office said at the time that her significant other had a House email mainly to have access to her official schedule, something that is allowed under congressional rules.
‘From time to time, at the request of members, spouses and partners are provided House email accounts for the purposes of viewing the member’s calendar,’ said a spokesman for the Congressional Administrative Office.
Outside of those minor incidents, Ocasio-Cortez was hit with an ethics complaint earlier this year for attending the Met Gala in New York. Tickets to the ritzy gala, according to The Associated Press, run upward of $30,000.
The American Accountability Foundation alleged that the congresswoman broke House rules by accepting free tickets to the event, which is noted for drawing figures from New York high society.
The foundation alleged that since Ocasio-Cortez described attending the event as part of her official duties, the ticket amounts to a gift. House rules prohibit members of Congress from accepting gifts valued at more than $50.
Both the top Republican and Democrat on the ethics panel this week were quick to note that just because an investigation has begun idoes not ‘indicate that any violation has occurred.’ Ocasio-Cortez’s office did not respond to requests for comment on this story.
Ocasio-Cortez has been subject to widespread scrutiny since winning an upset Democratic primary for a House seat in 2018. In that campaign, Ocasio-Cortez defeated longtime Rep. Joe Crowley, who was then serving as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
Since entering Congress, Ocasio-Cortez has only burnished her public profile by becoming a leading member of a small group of far-left House Democrats known as the ‘squad.’ The group has sought to push Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and President Biden to the left in recent years.
‘She’s a rising star who came to Congress by defeating an entrenched Democratic heavyweight,’ said a senior Democratic aide. ‘Given her age, politics and background, it’s not surprising he’s garnered outsize attention.’