‘Tax The Rich’ Dress Designer Owes Over $1M in Debts, Including Taxes

People continue discussing Democrat-Socialist U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wearing a “Tax the Rich” designer dress to the posh $35,000 per plate Met Gala. Reportedly, the Met comped the tickets to AOC. Pundits on both sides are debating whether it was a sincere political message or a publicity stunt. But they’re doing it amid complaints of House ethics violations.

The Washington Free Beacon said the ethics complaint alleges AOC accepted a gown, shoes, fine jewelry, and professional hair and makeup services. The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, an ethics watchdog group, said, “the items constitute a violation of the House’s “gift rule.” However, AOC is not the only one whose ethics are being questioned over the event.

AOC’s dress designer, Aurora James, may have a few frayed threads of her own to be concerned about. According to Jon Levine and Kathianne Boniello at the New York Post, the “Tax the Rich” dress designer has a few tax problems herself.

Aurora James, 37, told CNN AOC’s dress was a “powerful message” while touting “economic justice.” But, as the Post reported, it’s a message “she has not taken to heart.” The Cultural Brokerage Agency LLC is the parent company of James’ fashion brand, Brother Vellies. The company boasts such high-visibility customers as “Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Meghan Markle.”

The list of alleged tax impropriety and employee mistreatment is extensive and not indicative of someone who claims to support the oppressed. According to reporting, James has three New York state tax warrants for failure to withhold income tax amounting to $14,798. The NY Department of Taxation and Finance also shows, since 2015, James’ LLC has amassed 15 warrants.

The IRS imposed liens on James for 2018-2019 totaling $103,220. Despite allegedly owing these taxes, James reportedly also received $41,666 in pandemic relief aid. Also, the Worker’s Compensation Board fined her $17,000 for not carrying worker’s comp insurance in 2017-2018. This insurance pays employees when they miss time, including for injuries. The Post reports the company currently owes $62,722, and it has reportedly received no payments.

And James’ problems don’t stop there.  Some have claimed work conditions are on par with “sweatshop” conditions and that unpaid interns work full-time jobs. Ex-employees complained of harassment and being assigned tasks outside the job description. Reports go on to say that there was such a hostile work environment that one employee “was afraid to ask for [their] check.” That employee was reportedly fired.

Purportedly, her landlord evicted James from a business location in Brooklyn. That landlord has also demanded $25K “for staying beyond the end of her lease.” Another landlord also sued her for unpaid rent at a location in Manhattan.

AOC called James a “working class” designer. Despite legal problems, the working-class designer bought a $1.6 M home in L.A. in Sept. 2020. The Post said James’ is already delinquent $2,504 for property taxes.

About AOC’s tax-strapped dress designer pal, James, a fellow U.S. Rep. from NY, Republican Nicole Malliotakis, commented to the Post, “What happened to everyone paying their fair share?”


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