Monday, October 2, 2023

Beltway Intrigue and Mendo Street Art Collide: When AOC Wore the Velvet Bandit’s ‘Tax the Rich’ Slogan, Did She Commit an Ethics Violation?


Democratic party firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made headlines in September 2021 when she attended the Met Gala, a party for America’s political, intellectual, and entertainment glitterati, wearing a gown embroidered with the now infamous slogan “Tax the Rich”.

The slogan struck a chord here in Mendocino County because the font was clearly a nod to the recognizable creation of the Velvet Bandit, a street artist that hails from Willits and has spread her unique brand of quirky, punny pop art throughout the North Coast.

Now, that same gown adorned with the Velvet Bandit’s slogan is at the center of an investigation being conducted by the United States House of Representatives Office of Congressional Ethics. The office is looking into claims that AOC accepted “impermissible gifts associated with her attendance at the Met Gala” including the “Tax the Rich” gown.

The House of Representatives prohibits lawmakers from accepting gifts valued greater than $50 and investigators assert AOC’s dress, handbag, shoes, jewelry, and make-up/hair services were given to her for free totaling thousands of dollars in goods and services. Her partner, Riley Roberts, even received a bow tie and shoes for the event. 

The recent ethics report published by the Office of Congressional  Ethics found that AOC did pay the rental value of the attire, but only after the ethics office began their investigation. 

We reached out to the Velvet Bandit herself to see her reaction to the allegations AOC faces. She told us, “Honestly, I’m pretty bummed to hear that AOC didn’t pay her people (hairdressers and whatnot) for her appearance when she went to the Met Gala. It sounds pretty shady.” 

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Velvet recognized that “people make mistakes” but “coupled with the fact that the designer also borrowed my font for her dress I’m feeling a bit disheartened about the whole thing.” After seeing images of AOC’s dress recirculating online, Velvet said “It stings to see images of that dress in the news again and again not get any credit for it. “

Despite the controversy, Velvet still has hope for AOC’s role in America’s political process:  “I do hope she continues to be a voice for low and middle-class Americans, and I still believe that we need to tax the rich- and churches while we’re at it.”

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  1. All politicians are frauds, liars, hypocrites & thieves! I think it’s required by law to be so if you want in on politics. I wanna know if the velvet bandit was acknowledged by anyone in the AOC camp or if they just straight up took it?

  2. https://img.theepochtimes.com/assets/uploads/2022/04/13/GettyImages-1256734986.jpg

    “Tax The Rich” is not an original slogan cooked up by the “Velvet Bandit” whoever she is. Check the photo above from 2020. Tax the rich’s origins stems from the early twentieth century labor movement, and “Eat The Rich,” which stems from this earlier slogan was an evolvement of the same phrase used repeatedly by the left in the 1960’s. By the way, entrance to the New York gala cost $35,000.00 AOC took her boyfriend. That’s 70 grand. Who paid for that? Or was it a freebie from the rich liberals of New York that no poor person was allowed to have?

    • 👍…I’ve heard the slogans “tax or eat the rich” before. I was referring to the imagery. Which may or may not be original to the artist. Either way thanks for some clarity! I wasn’t aware of the entrance cost to the gala though. Hefty price to rub elbows with the “elite”. All in the interest of her constituents im sure🤣

    • If you’re invited to the Gala by a designer then your entrance fee is waived, normal folks like us would have to pay that in order to attend.

  3. My Velvet Bandit favorite: a bong whose water is full of ‘Trumps Tears’ . Beautiful
    And a free pre worn outfit? Call me when she traffics a teenager👍

  4. Seen font prior and there are differences. Designer says assistant wrote it out out on paper in shop and then they printed it.
    After met gala she sold items InHer store with this saying…she or her assistant trademarked it

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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