U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, 76, whose 30-year career in Congress is about to end after she lost a contentious primary, is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly soliciting a ticket to the annual Met Gala, run by the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute.
The highlight of New York’s social calendar is a charity event and one of the most exclusive events in the world. It regularly includes public officials in New York as guests. The fundraiser also sees other prominent New Yorkers rub shoulders with Hollywood stars.
At the crux of the ethics report are two emails that seem to suggest Maloney was unhappy about not being invited to the 2016 Met Gala.
Investigators for the committee said Maloney called the museum’s president in 2016 when she learned she had not been invited to that year’s glitzy event.
A Manhattan Democrat Rep. Carolyn Maloney, is under investigation for asking for a ticket to the star-studded Met Gala after she was left off the guest list in 2016
The Office of Congressional Ethics says there’s ‘substantial reason to believe’ Democrat Rep. Carolyn Maloney ‘solicited or accepted impermissible gifts’
An 2015 email sees Maloney’s name crossed off the list. Report confirms there is ‘some confusion’ as to why Maloney’s name was crossed off an internal list of government officials to be invited in 2016
The museum technically resides in New York’s current 10th District and borders Maloney’s 12th District, but Maloney ‘has long considered the Met to be a part of her congressional district,’ the report said
‘I received a call this past week from Carolyn,’ Emily Rafferty, the Met’s former president, wrote in a email to the museum’s director.
‘She is unhappy to say the least that she is not receiving an invitation to the Party of the Year.’
Rafferty said Maloney ‘went on about how much she does for the Met, always responsive when you call, and proactive re the institution’s needs in DC. She has been coming to the party for years, and it is the one thing she cares about. For what it is worth, I highly recommend you include Carolyn, [then–New York City Comptroller] Scott Stringer and his wife in your 80 allotted spaces.’
The report goes on to note how Maloney secured $2.75 million in federal funding for improvements to the Met from 2003 to 2011, and led a 2020 request for $4 billion in nonprofit assistance to museums including the Met related to COVID-19 relief.
Another email from 2018 from the Met’s former chief government relations officer ‘suggests that in future years, Rep. Maloney’s 2016 outreach requesting attendance continued to impact her invitation status to the Met Gala,’ the report said.
‘When she learned she would not be attaining [sic] 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,’ the 2018 email stated.
It is not against House ethics rules to accept a free ticket to a charity event, but it is against the rules to ask for one.
Maloney did end up attending the Met Gala in 2016 and in subsequent years thereafter including in 2019 when she wore a firefighter’s jacket to agitate for September 11-related health benefits
Tickets to the event run around $35,000 apiece, and according to Vogue, Anna Wintour, the renowned editor in chief of the fashion magazine, personally approves each of the event’s more than 500 invitees.
Maloney was ultimately invited to the 2016 gala and has been to every one thereafter.
‘If Rep. Maloney solicited or accepted impermissible gifts, then she may have violated House rules, standards of conduct and federal law,’ the board of the Office of Congressional Ethics wrote in the report.
Maloney told investigators she did recall the phone call to Rafferty.
A spokesperson for Maloney, Adrien Lesser, said the lawmaker ‘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.’
Maloney did end up attending the Met Gala in 2016 and in subsequent years including in 2019 when she wore a firefighter’s jacket to agitate for September 11-related health benefits and in 2021 when her dress promoted the Equal Rights Amendment.
The report also notes that from all the evidence gathered, ‘conspicuously absent from these statements is any mention that Chairwoman Maloney requested an invitation to the 2016 Met Gala or threatened to withhold support due to her exclusion from the event,’ it states.
Carolyn Maloney is pictured at the 2021 Met Gala when her dress ‘promoted the Equal Rights Amendment’
In a 2020 email Maloney asked her staff months ahead of the event whether she was invited to that year’s Met Gala.
‘Did we hear from the Met on the Met Ball? Am I invited this year??’ an email from February of that year reads – some seven months before the event would take place.
Her staff responded that the Metropolitan Museum of Art chief government relations officer would be invited to a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, at which they may be able to speak to him.
Maloney then asked for that person’s contact information. ‘How do I call him?’ she writes.
Maloney said she was inquiring about the event because of COVID-19.
The even is the highlight of New York’s social calendar is a charity event and one of the most exclusive events in the world. Pictured, Kendall Jenner is pictured at the 2021 event
‘People were asking whether things were happening or not,’ she told the Ethics Office in an interview.
Because she is retiring from Congress, it is unlikely that Maloney will ever face any punishment for asking about her 2016 invitation.
‘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,’ a spokesperson for Maloney said in a statement.
‘In three decades of honorable service in Congress, Representative Maloney had never before been accused of any ethical improprieties. Nevertheless, she understands that the Ethics Committee is required to review and release the OCE Report, which includes only one allegation related to inquiring about an event invitation six years ago to the Met Gala, a widely attended event to which she was invited by The Met and not by specific Met donors,’ the spokesperson added.
In a more recent email from January 2022, Maloney ‘expressed concerns regarding the location of the Met within the new district lines,’ and her chief of staff drafted a letter on behalf of the Met’s senior vice president of public affairs requesting that the New York redistricting commission keep the Met in Maloney’s district.
The museum technically resides in New York’s current 10th District and borders Maloney’s 12th District, but Maloney ‘has long considered the Met to be a part of her congressional district,’ the report said.
Her spokesperson said Maloney will ‘continue to support the arts and humanities in New York City and around the country’ as a private citizen.
The event regularly includes public officials in New York as guests. Pictured, New York City Mayor Eric Adams whose jacket attempted to highlight the issue of gun crime in the city
The fundraiser also sees other prominent New Yorkers rub shoulders with Hollywood stars. Pictured, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attends the 2021 even with ‘Tax The Rich’ inscribed on her dress
Maloney served as the U.S. representative for New York’s 12th congressional district since 2013, and for New York’s 14th congressional district from 1993 to 2013.
Her district included most of Manhattan’s East Side, Astoria and Long Island City in Queens, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, as well as Roosevelt Island.
Maloney was the first woman to chair the Joint Economic Committee and became the first woman to chair the House Committee on Oversight and Reform following the death of Elijah Cummings.
Born in North Carolina in 1946, she worked as a teacher and an administrator for the New York City Board of Education.
In 1977, she obtained a job working for the New York State Legislature.
She was elected to the New York City Council in 1982 in a heavily Spanish-speaking district based in East Harlem and parts of the South Bronx and served as a council member for 10 years.
Maloney introduced the first measure in New York to recognize domestic partnerships, including those of same-sex couples and was also the first person to give birth while serving as a council member.
Maloney who has represented New York City’s Upper East Side for three decades told investigators she could not recall ever requesting an invitation