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Investigation suggests Carolyn Maloney’s Met Gala ticket may have 'violated House ethics rules': report

Alternet logo Alternet 11/22/2022 Alex Henderson
 Image via Creative Commons. © provided by AlterNet Image via Creative Commons.

In 2016, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York City found out that she had been dropped from the guest list for the Metropolitan Museum’s Met Gala event, and she contacted the Museum’s former president, Emily Kernan, in the hope of getting back on the list. It worked: Maloney’s name was added to the list. But according to the New York Times, her actions “may have violated House ethics rules or federal laws that bar lawmakers from soliciting gifts, including invitations.”

After Maloney voiced her displeasure to Kernan, the former Metropolitan Museum president e-mailed the person who held that position at the time and wrote, “I received a call this past week from Carolyn. She is unhappy, to say the least, that she is not receiving an invitation to the Party of the Year.”

When Kernan intervened on Maloney’s behalf, Maloney enjoyed “a night of mingling with celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry and Beyoncé,” the Times’ Nicholas Fandos reports in an article published on November 22. But in a newly-released 15-page report, the Office of Congressional Ethics said it had “substantial reason to believe that Rep. Maloney may have solicited or accepted impermissible gifts associated with her attendance at the Met Gala.”

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“The committee only made it public on Monday, (November 21), saying it was still under review,” Fandos reports. “But the report — which included private Metropolitan Museum communications, and interviews with high-level former museum officials and Ms. Maloney herself — is an embarrassing coda to three decades of service for one of the most powerful women in Congress. Ms. Maloney and her lawyers repeatedly denied that her actions were improper, and said that she never explicitly requested a ticket to the 2016 event, known officially as the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Benefit, much less traded favors for one.”

Maloney, now 76, has been a fixture in New York City politics and presently chairs the House Oversight Committee. After serving on the New York City Council for a decade, Maloney was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992. Maloney was reelected many times, but thanks to redistricting, she found herself competing with Rep. Jerry Nadler in a Democratic congressional primary in 2022.

Before that, Maloney and Nadler had been in separate districts. But when redistricting put them in the same district, Nadler defeated her in a primary and went on to win the general election.

Nadler has chaired the House Judiciary Committee since 2019. But in 2023, Republicans, not Democrats, will have a narrow majority in the House, although Democrats will still have a majority in the U.S. Senate.

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Fandos notes, “The committee’s report suggested that the 2016 brouhaha may have helped secure Ms. Maloney tickets for years to come. If so, she has since used them to press her top legislative priorities: In 2019, she wore a firefighter’s jacket to the gala, in support of efforts to fund September 11-related health benefits; two years later, her yellow, green and purple dress calling for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment turned heads.”

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