Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney faces ethics investigation into Met Gala tickets
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney faces ethics investigation into Met Gala tickets | Rep. Maloney's Office, Pixabay

Met Gala Tix the Focus of Ethics Investigation into Congresswoman Maloney

The investigation into the actions of outgoing Upper East Side Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has nothing to do with this year’s election. The House of Representatives’ Ethics Committee announced Monday it will continue probing whether the longtime member of congress violated House rules and federal law by requesting an invitation to the Met Gala after being crossed off the guest list for 2016. 

According to a 15-page report released on Monday by the Office of Congressional Ethics, the investigation centers around whether Rep. Maloney improperly sought a ticket to the annual star-studded party — which serves as a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute and reportedly costs $35,000 per person to attend.

Longtime UES Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is the subject of an ethics investigation | Upper East Site
Longtime UES Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is the subject of an ethics investigation | Upper East Site

An internal memo from The Met, which was released as part of the ethics investigation, shows that Congresswoman Maloney’s name was crossed off the list of governmental invitees in 2016. Though it is not clear why her name was removed ahead of that year’s gala, it’s believed she was cut due to space limitations, according to depositions of museum employees.

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“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 [Met Gala],” wrote former president of The Met, Emily Rafferty, in a April 2016 email to her old colleagues at the museum, which was obtained by investigators.

Rep. Maloney's name is crossed off an invite list for the 2016 Met Gala
Rep. Maloney’s name is crossed off an invite list for the 2016 Met Gala

“She went on about how much she does for the Met, always responsive when you call, and proactive [regarding] the institution’s concerns in DC,” Raffety added.

Rep. Maloney’s alleged resistance to being cut from the gala’s invite list came up again two years later, in 2018, when The Met’s Chief Government Affairs Officer Tom Schuler sent an email to museum employees to “reiterate the importance of being inclusive as possible when extending invitations to government officials.”

Former Met Museum President Emily Rafferty emailed former colleagues about Rep. Maloney's request
Former Met Museum President Emily Rafferty emailed former colleagues about Rep. Maloney’s request

“We added Carolyn Maloney to that list even though she does not have a seat on our Board,” wrote Schuler in an August 2018 email.

“When she learned she would not be attaining that year’s gala (2015) she actually pushed back. Carolyn made calls personally to [redacted] and even [redacted]. We have ultimately secured one seat for her each year,” he explained.

The star-studded Met Gala benefits the museum's costume institute | Upper East Site
The star-studded Met Gala benefits the museum’s Costume Institute | Upper East Site

During a deposition earlier this year, Maloney was asked whether she made any phone calls to museum leadership regarding an invitation to the Met Gala in 2015 or 2016.

“I do not recall it at all,” Congresswoman Maloney told investigators.

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Members of the House of Representatives are barred from accepting gifts worth $50, according to House rules, however, they are allowed to accept invitations to ‘widely-attended events,’ so long as their invitation is unsolicited — which is where Maloney may have run afoul.

“Representative Maloney is confident that the House Ethics Committee will dismiss this matter,” the congresswoman’s spokesperson told Upper East Site.

“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 added.

Congresswoman Maloney was defeated in August's Democratic primary election | Carolyn Maloney for Congress
Congresswoman Maloney was defeated in August’s Democratic primary election | Carolyn Maloney for Congress

While the Ethics Committee says there is “substantial reason to believe that she solicited or accepted impermissible gifts associated with her attendance at the Met Gala,” it also notes that an investigation does not indicate a violation has occurred.

Carolyn Maloney is leaving the House of Representatives come next year, after being defeated in August’s Democratic primary by longtime Upper West Side Congressman Jerry Nadler — who ultimately won Rep. Maloney’s seat in the November’s general election.

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