Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) may have “improperly solicited” an invitation to New York’s high-profile Met Gala in 2016, according to a June report by the Office of Congressional Ethics made public on Monday.
The office has referred the inquiry to the House Ethics Committee, which is still considering whether to pursue a full investigation into the matter.
The inquiry is centered on the invitation list to the celebrity-studded affair at the Metropolitan Museum of Art every year. Government officials are regularly invited to attend free, but an internal memo included in the referral shows Maloney’s name was crossed out for the 2016 event while other officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and several New York City Council members, were set to be invited.
Maloney, evidently angered, called the museum’s former president, Emily Kernan Rafferty.
“I received a call this past week from Carolyn,” Rafferty wrote in an internal email in 2016. “She is unhappy to say the least that she is not receiving an invitation to the Party of the Year.”
The brouhaha, investigators said, seemed to land Maloney an invite to that year’s festivities and many events since. The lawmaker has used her appearances to make political statements, once wearing a gown with an Equal Rights Amendment theme and another year honoring the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
Members of Congress are allowed to attend charitable events — even ones like the Met Gala that sell tables for hundreds of thousands of dollars. But ethics laws require that all invitations be “unsolicited offers of free attendance.”
“There is substantial reason to believe that she solicited or accepted impermissible gifts associated with her attendance at the Met Gala,” the referral to the ethics committee says, noting that her initial outreach to the Met in 2016 suggested her frustration “continued to impact her invitation status.”
The report was made public Monday after the committee extended its review of Maloney’s behavior, but it’s unlikely to result in any punishment since she is set to retire.
Maloney’s 30-year tenure in the House will end in January after she lost to fellow Democrat Rep. Jerry Nadler in the race for the state’s newly drawn 12 Congressional District. She is currently the chair of the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee.
Her office has denied violating any rules, telling The Hill that the lawmaker was “confident that the House Ethics Committee will dismiss this matter.”
“Although the Committee has not made any determination a violation occurred, she is disappointed by the unproven and disputed allegations in the report issued by Office of Congressional Ethics and strongly disagrees with its referral,” the spokesperson said.