Nov 21, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Ethics panel probes Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s Met Gala invites

Rep. Carolyn Maloney at the Met Gala in a yellow, green, purple and white outfit touting the Equal Rights Amendment.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) at the 2021 Met Gala. Photo: Ray Tamarra/GC Images.

The House Ethics Committee is investigating whether Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) improperly solicited invitations to the Met Gala, a newly released report reveals.

Why it matters: The report from the Office of Congressional Ethics sheds light on the Ethics Committee’s enigmatic disclosure last month that the high-ranking Maloney was under investigation.

  • Maloney, who is leaving Congress in January after losing her August primary, is currently chair of the House Oversight Committee.

Driving the news: According to the report, Maloney made a call to an unidentified former Metropolitan Museum of Art president in 2016 to request an invitation to that year's Met Gala after she had been left off an invitation list. It also cites evidence that suggests she may have requested an invite in 2020. (The 2020 event was canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.)

  • The report details Maloney's long-running connection to the Met, including steering grants and federal funds towards it and other museums and even pressing redistricting officials to keep it within her district's lines.
  • In an interview with the OCE, Maloney said that "from 2015 to present, she did not recall a year in which she was not invited to the Met Gala," according to the report, but the Met turned over a document that showed her name crossed off the 2016 list of invited political figures.
  • The OCE board voted unanimously to refer the matter to the Ethics Committee, which is the only body empowered to take disciplinary action against members of Congress.

What they're saying: "These efforts to gain free attendance may implicate the prohibition on solicitation of gifts under federal law and House rules," the report says.

The other side: Maloney's attorneys, in a response to the Ethics Committee, denied that she explicitly asked for an invitation in 2016, arguing the evidence only shows she expressed her displeasure and "confusion" at not being invited.

  • Regarding the 2020 Met Gala, the attorneys wrote that Maloney was trying to clarify whether the event was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • They also argued her attendance at the Met Gala falls under an exception to House rules concerning gifts to members of Congress for "widely attended" events.

What's next: The Ethics Committee is continuing to review the matter, according to a press release from the panel.

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