The marital status of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), has come under scrutiny following an investigation by the Washington Free Beacon. This investigation uncovered financial disclosure forms where Ocasio-Cortez referred to her boyfriend, Riley Roberts, as her “spouse.”
BREAKING – YOUR REACTION: Far-left Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) referred to her fiancé, Riley Roberts, as her "spouse" in disclosure forms filed this year. However, her office clarified that they have never been "legally married," potentially violating House ethics rules.… pic.twitter.com/jlSnNi4PcQ
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) September 13, 2023
AOC’s spokeswoman, Lauren Hitt, attempted to clarify the situation, stating, “They are not legally married.” She added that the House Ethics Committee typically recognizes the term “spouse” to encompass long-term partners.
However, this explanation doesn’t hold water when examining the House Ethics Committee’s Code of Official Conduct, which defines a spouse as “someone to whom you are legally married.” AOC had announced Roberts as her fiancé when she publicly announced their engagement in May of the previous year.
Taking the documents at face value, four legal filings submitted to the House Ethics Committee regarding AOC’s overseas travels in 2022 and 2023 suggest that the couple may have been legally married since January 13, 2023.
If this is indeed the case, it means that AOC can no longer exploit the so-called “boyfriend loophole” to avoid disclosing her partner’s financial details. While lawmakers are required to disclose financial information about their spouses, live-in romantic partners, and fiancés have historically been exempt from this rule.
Furthermore, there is no clear explanation as to why she didn’t identify Roberts as her spouse in ethics disclosures prior to 2023, despite her office claiming that the legal status of their relationship has remained consistent since she entered Congress in 2019. Roberts is reported to have a net worth of $1.5 to $2 million, primarily derived from his web consulting firm.
Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, the senior government affairs manager at the Project on Government Oversight, commented, “If Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is going to refer to Mr. Roberts as her spouse in one type of ethics disclosure, it would be logical and consistent for her to do so in all ethics disclosures, including annual financial disclosures and periodic transaction reports.”
This ambiguity surrounding AOC’s financials is particularly noteworthy given her reputation as an advocate for ethics and transparency in government. She introduced legislation in April aimed at banning members of Congress and their spouses from owning stocks.
Additionally, she has criticized Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for alleged ethical violations and called for a federal investigation into his conduct.
Kendra Arnold, executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, emphasized that if AOC and Roberts were indeed married, she would be obligated to disclose his finances in her 2022 financial disclosure, with no exceptions allowed.
Misrepresenting financial information on an official form carries severe penalties, including a $50,000 fine or up to 5 years in prison. AOC could also face reprimand by the Ethics Committee or censure by the House if her withholding of Roberts’ financial information is deemed “intentional.”