Is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) married? Most people would answer, “Who cares?” However, this question has been brought to light due to discrepancies in her financial disclosure forms.
The marital status of the congresswoman is now under scrutiny following an investigation that revealed financial disclosure forms referring to her boyfriend, Riley Roberts as her “spouse.” AOC spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said, “They are not legally married.”
— Forbes (@Forbes) March 2, 2023
The primary issue here is that the House Ethics Committee’s Code of Official Conduct defines a spouse as “someone to whom you are legally married.” AOC even had the choice to describe Roberts as her fiancé. AOC announced last May that the two were indeed engaged.
Despite this, four legal filings were submitted to the House Ethics Committee related to her overseas travels in 2022 and again in 2023. That information suggests the pair may have been legally married since January 13 2023. If that is true, the “squad” member can no longer leverage the boyfriend loophole.
While lawmakers must disclose financial information about their spouses, live-in romantic partners (i.e., boyfriend, girlfriend, or fiancé) are exempt. Lying and filing a false form with the Ethics Committee can have severe consequences if the individual is actually held accountable, a word AOC likes to use regularly.
Why Ocasio-Cortez considers Roberts her spouse for overseas travel purposes but not for financial disclosure needs to be clarified. There’s also no reason she didn’t identify Roberts as her spouse in ethics disclosures before 2023. According to her office, their relationship’s legal status hasn’t changed since 2019.
Riley Roberts reportedly has a net worth of $1.5-$2 million from his web consulting firm. Unless there’s a secret reason, there are no grounds for not disclosing his information. If AOC refers to Robers as her spouse in one type of ethics disclosure, she should do so for all other kinds of ethics disclosures.
The hypocrisy surrounding Ocasio-Cortez’s ethics issue is notable since she has positioned herself as an advocate for ethics and transparency. She introduced legislation to ban members of Congress and spouses from owning stocks. AOC has also targeted Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for alleged ethical violations.
Misrepresenting financial information on an official form could result in a $50,000 fine or five years in prison. Deliberate concealment of Roberts’ finances could lead to reprimand by the Ethics Committee or censure by the House. Ocasio-Cortez will need to address these discrepancies before they backfire.
Amid this scrutiny surrounding AOC’s marital status and financial disclosure forms, the spotlight now rests on her commitment to ethics and transparency. As a vocal advocate for these principles she must remain honest and forthright about her reasoning unless she wants to lose all credibility.
The public and her colleagues in Congress will undoubtedly look to her for a complete and transparent explanation. America is looking for an answer that aligns with her values of openness and accountability. Only AOC knows why she would be violating an ethics law, and she’s also the only one who can explain it.