Long-time House Dem accused of soliciting expensive Met Gala tickets in ethics probe

Redistricting has led to the end of Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s (D-NY) roughly 40 years as an elected official, with almost three decades in the House of Representatives, but as she makes her way toward the exit, her departure comes equipped with wholly “impermissible” ethics violations.

After surviving the redistricting of the 2010 census that led Maloney to transition from representing New York’s 14th District to its 12th, a primary race against Rep. Jerry Nadler resulted in the congresswoman ultimately losing. Garnering about 24 percent of the vote compared to Nadler’s 55 percent, Maloney portrayed the loss as a matter of sexism, but perhaps Nadler’s support from the likes of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had more to do with an ethics investigation that had begun earlier this year.

The Met Gala, which raises money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibitions and improvements, does so through ticket sales that range from about $30,000 to $200,000. As set forth by a report from the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), a review that began in February of this year suggested Maloney, who ironically chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and has worked in her official capacity to secure grants and federal funding for the Met, may have improperly solicited tickets to the 2016 and 2020 Met Gala.

Released ahead of Thanksgiving, the OCE report alleged that after failing to be invited to the event for the years in question, Maloney contacted a former Met president, identified as Witness A, to procure admission.

“These efforts to gain free attendance may implicate the prohibition on solicitation of gifts under federal law and House rules and render inapplicable any otherwise applicable gift exception for attendance at charitable events,” the report stated.

As outlined in the report, current House gift guidance pertaining to charity events details that members “may accept an unsolicited offer of free attendance for a charity fundraising event for you and a spouse or dependent child,” but, “emphasizes that solicitation of a gift is impermissible.”

When interviewed by OCE, Maloney said, “she did not recall a year in which she was not invited to the Met Gala. Specifically, Rep. Maloney stated, ‘[a]s I said, I was often invited. I was invited to more events at the Met than I ever went to because I live in Washington.”

Witness testimony from other Met officials contradicted that claim as memorialized phone conversations and emails provided evidence of the lawmaker not being invited during the years in question and her requests to be included.

“Maloney was given an opportunity to refresh her recollection with the August 16, 2018 email, in which Witness B [a former Met Chief Government Relations Officer] discussed her previous request for an invitation,” the report explained, providing a redacted version of the email.

“After reviewing the email,” it continued, “Rep. Maloney contended that she did not recall ever calling anyone at the Met regarding her invitation to the Met Gala.” She similarly denied doing so as it pertained to an email dated February 22, 2020, about that year’s event.

As such, the OCE concluded, that the House Ethics Committee “further review the above allegation that Rep. Maloney may have solicited or accepted impermissible gifts associated with her attendance at the Met Gala.”

Maloney has continued to deny any wrongdoing and her attorneys provided a statement included with the report that said her attendance at the Met Galas were “appropriate and complied with all applicable House gift rules, laws, and regulations. In addition, Chairwoman Maloney did not impermissibly solicit an invitation to these events.”

Additionally, a statement from a spokesperson for the outgoing congresswoman said, “Representative Maloney is 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 penalty for the violation, if she is found guilty, was not specified by the OCE.

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