Top Democrat Traded Access For Invites To Swanky Gala, Report Alleges

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Democratic New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the outgoing chairwoman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, “may have solicited or accepted impermissible gifts” from the Met Gala, according to a report from the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).

Maloney, a frequent attendee at the Met Gala, violated House rules with her 2016 request for tickets, OCE alleges. The congresswoman has represented the district in which the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which hosts the gala, is located since she entered Congress in 1993. She will not return to Washington in 2023, after redistricting forced her into a member-versus-member primary, which she lost to Jerry Nadler. (RELATED: Rep. Carolyn Maloney Claims She Is Entitled To ‘A Woman’s Job’ In Primary Against Jerry Nadler)

Maloney’s office did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment on the matter.

Many members of New York’s congressional delegation attend the yearly Met Gala. Notably, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a white dress with “Tax the Rich” emblazoned across the back in red letters. Maloney told OCE in an interview that she could not “recall” any Gala “from 2015 onward” to which she was not invited.

However, Maloney personally requested tickets to the Met Gala in 2016, according to emails obtained by OCE and included in the watchdog’s report. A memo detailing invitees to the 2016 party showed Maloney’s name crossed off. Her invitation was rescinded “due to possible downsizing of seats,” according to the Met’s former Director of Government Affairs.

An “unhappy to say the least” Maloney called a Met Gala staffer complaining that she was not invited, according to an email from the staffer to executives. Maloney subsequently denied making the call in her OCE interview. (RELATED: Ethics Office Finds ‘Substantial Reason To Believe’ Republican Rep Illegally Accepted Caribbean Vacation)

“She went on about how much she does for the Met, always responsive when you call, and proactive re the institution’s concerns in DC. She has been coming to the party for years, and it is the one thing she cares about,” the staffer wrote.

Requesting an invitation would violate House Rule XXV, which only allows members of Congress to accept an “offer of free attendance” when the offer is “unsolicited.” The alleged actions would also violate a federal law prohibiting members from “solicit[ing] or accept[ing] anything of value from a person seeking official action from, doing business with, or (in the case of executive branch officers and employees) conducting activities regulated by, the individual’s employing entity.”

During New York’s 2020 redistricting, Maloney’s office pushed to keep the Metropolitan Museum of Art in her old Twelfth District. Minna Elias, Maloney’s district chief of staff, prepared a draft letter for an executive at Hunter College to submit arguing that the museum should remain in the congresswoman’s district. The executive, Harold Holzer, served for 23 years as senior vice president of the Met.

“While the East Side member of Congress represents the people who live around the Metropolitan Museum, the West Side member of Congress does not. That means that the member of Congress is not as familiar with the community concerns or the institutions that affect the museum,” Elias wrote in the letter.