Rep. Carolyn Maloney is under investigation for soliciting free tickets to the Met Gala

Outgoing Upper East Side Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) is under investigation by ethics investigators over possible violations of House rules and federal law by applying for tickets to the 2016 Met Gala, admitted the chamber’s ethics committee announced on Monday.

Maloney, 76, whose three-decade term in Congress was ended by Rep. Jerry Nadler in a nasty August primary caused by a county reelection, called former museum president Emily Rafferty in March 2016 to a to request a ticket to this year’s edition of the star-studded event after it was removed from the guest list, according to a damning report from the Office of Congressional Ethics.

The OCE report included an email from Rafferty to Met executives dated April 2, 2016, in which she said Maloney was “unfortunate, to say the least, that she didn’t receive an invite to the party of the year.”

“She continued on about how much she does for the Met, always responsive when you call and proactive about the DC institution’s concerns,” Rafferty wrote. “She’s been coming to the party for years and it’s the only thing that interests her… For what it’s worth I highly recommend you include Carolyn, [then-New York City Comptroller] Scott Stringer and his wife in their 80 assigned seats.”

Outgoing Upper East Side Rep. Carolyn Maloney
Outgoing Upper East Side Rep. Carolyn Maloney is being investigated by ethics investigators for potential violations of House rules and federal laws.
FilmMagic / Jeff Kravitz
Carolyn B Maloney
Maloney attended the 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City.
Getty Images / Mike Coppola

While house rules do not preclude attending a charity event free of charge if unsolicited, soliciting free tickets is not permitted.

A 2018 email from Tom Schuler, the museum’s former chief government relations officer, indicated that Maloney’s tantrum had earned her a permanent spot on the guest list.

“We ended up securing her a seat every year,” Schuler wrote.

The OCE report also notes that the gala was often a priority for lawmakers in subsequent years.

“Have we heard from the Met at the Met Ball? Am I invited this year??? A February 2020 email from Maloney to a staff member reads.

When the employee replies that Maloney has not yet been invited to the glittering display case and that a meeting with Schuler was scheduled to request an invitation, Maloney replies, “What do I call him?”

Carolyn Maloney
Maloney attends the Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2019.
Getty Images for the Met Museum
Mets Gala
Visiting a charity event free of charge is not prohibited by the house rules if the invitation is unsolicited; the acquisition of free tickets is not permitted.
Getty Images / Jamie McCarthy

The event was finally canceled this year due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The OCE report concluded that “there is significant reason to believe that Rep. Maloney may have solicited or accepted improper gifts in connection with her attendance at the Met Gala.”

The House Ethics Committee announced Monday that the matter was referred by the OCE in June this year and the commission voted last month to extend its review.

“The Committee notes that the mere fact of conducting further review of a referral and the mandatory disclosure of such further review does not in itself indicate that a breach has occurred or reflect a judgment on behalf of the Committee,” the panel noted Celebration.

MP Carolyn Maloney
Maloney, 76, had been a candidate for Congress for three decades.
Getty Images/Kevin Dietsch

The star-studded Met Gala is an annual fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Tickets to the event are $35,000 each, and according to Vogue, Anna Wintour, the fashion magazine’s longtime editor-in-chief, personally approves each of the more than 500 invitees.

From 2003 to 2011, Maloney secured $2.75 million in federal funding for the Met, the OCE found. In March 2020, she led a city delegation requesting $4 billion in federal funding for the Met and other museums to protect against pandemic losses.

Maloney’s attorneys said in a statement that her attendance at the Met Gala “was reasonable and complied with all applicable housekeeping rules, laws and regulations.” Furthermore, Chairwoman Maloney has not improperly requested an invitation to these events.” Rep. Carolyn Maloney is under investigation for soliciting free tickets to the Met Gala


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