U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has been at the center of multiple high-profile disputes during her time on Capitol Hill, but the most recent one deals with a more personal issue.
According to financial disclosure forms the lawmaker filed with the House Ethics Committee, Riley Roberts is her “spouse” rather than boyfriend or, as she confirmed in a social media post last year, her fiance.
It’s true! Thank you all for the well wishes ☺️ https://t.co/i5cm9awN3S
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 19, 2022
While that might be explained by a private wedding that took place since she announced her engagement, Ocasio-Cortez’s office acknowledged that they are “not legally married.”
This disparity prompted speculation that the New York Democrat could be attempting to hide something related to her financial situation.
Spokesperson Lauren Hitt claimed that “House Ethics has commonly recognized the term spouse to extend to long-term partners,” but a review of the committee’s code of conduct reveals that its official definition of “spouse” is “someone to whom you are legally married.”
At least four documents submitted to the ethics committee related to international trips the congresswoman took over the past two years indicate that Roberts has been her husband since at least January. Experts say this would mean that she would be required to disclose her husband’s financial data, which she has reportedly not done.
As PJ Media reported, misrepresenting her financial status on an official form could result in up to five years behind bars and a $50,000 fine.
Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust Executive Director Kendra Arnold explained: “If they were married then she would be required to disclose his finances on her 2022 financial disclosure. There is no exception to this rule.”
On the other hand, if Roberts is not her husband — as her office has indicated — she could face consequences for filing a false report with the ethics committee.
Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, the Project on Government Oversight’s senior government affairs manager, explained why the lawmaker’s actions are so confusing.
“If Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is going to refer to Mr. Roberts as her spouse in the context of one kind of ethics disclosure, it would be logical and consistent for her to do so in the context of all ethics disclosures, including annual financial disclosures and periodic transaction reports,” he concluded.