“Tax the Rich” dress designer ironically owes debt in multiple states
By Mary Villareal // Sep 24, 2021

Aurora James, the designer of the "Tax the Rich" dress worn by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at the Met Gala, may have a "powerful" message, but it is not one that she has taken to heart.


The 37-year-old designer who made waves at the Met Gala with AOC is a tax evader with unpaid debts in multiple states.

James's arrears center on the Cultural Brokerage Agency, a limited liability company (LLC) she formed in 2011 to serve as the parent company of her fashion brand, Brother Vellies. It's also a favorite of celebrities like Beyoncé, Rihanna and Meghan Markle.

The company was found to have racked up three open tax warrants in the state of New York for failing to withhold income taxes from employees' paychecks, as per the Department of Taxation and Finance. The debts were incurred before the pandemic -- stemming from 2018 and 2019. However, the company has been hit with 15 warrants in total since 2015.

The company also had an issue with federal authorities. The Internal Revenue Service placed six federal liens on the Cultural Brokerage Agency between April 2018 and April 2019 totaling $103,220. The liens specifically cite the company's failure to remit taxes of its employees.

David Cenedella, a Baruch College taxation lecturer, explained that just because employers take it out of their employees' paychecks, it does not necessarily mean that they're sending them to the government.

James not only failed to pay her taxes, but she also took money from taxpayers: her company received $41,666 in pandemic relief aid. Over the years, her company has also faced multiple legal challenges due to habitual nonpayment of worker benefits.

In October 2019, the Worker's Compensation Board gave the company a $17,000 fine for not carrying worker's compensation insurance between March 2017 and February 2018. The company owes a total of $62,722 and no payments have been received to date. Worker's compensation insurance is supposed to be paid out when an employee is hurt at work.

Former employees also blasted James's operation as a sweatshop that relied on unpaid interns expected to work full-time jobs.

One former contract employee said: "I experienced a lot of harassment when I worked for her. Aurora would ask me to do things that were not in anyone’s job description, like scheduling her gynecological appointments. The work environment was so hostile that I was afraid to ask for my check."

The employee was eventually terminated.

James owes more debt

In August 2020, James's landlord filed papers to evict Brother Vellies from their location in Brooklyn. The landlord also demanded more than $25,000 plus interest for the company staying beyond the end of the lease.

She was also sued by a previous landlord in February 2018 for more than $5,000 in unpaid rent at her shop's old address in Manhattan.

Despite being labeled as a "working class" designer, James's lifestyle is anything but. She bought a $1.6 million residence in Los Angeles in September 2020 despite the deep recession brought about by the pandemic. (Related: Ocasio-Cortez doubles down on STUPID after failing to understand how tax breaks work and chasing away $30 billion in tax revenue for the State of New York.)

The Tudor-style home has cathedral ceilings, a master's bedroom fireplace and a backyard hot tub. It sits on 7,095 square feet of land in Hollywood Hills. The property, however, is already listed as "delinquent" by the Los Angeles County assessor's office, owing $2,504 in property taxes.

All the while, James has amassed a huge fortune from Brother Vellies. As per the brand's website, shoes can cost between $285 to $800 a pair. She is also the founder of the 15 Percent Pledge non-profit organization that was created with the goal of helping Black-owned businesses.

AOC, meanwhile, got flak for wearing the dress, which is said to be worth approximately $1 million. Republican Staten Island Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis said, "It’s the height of hypocrisy when socialists attend a $30,000 per ticket gala with a message of 'tax the rich' while wearing an overpriced dress by a luxury designer who doesn’t pay taxes."

Read more about the left's hypocrisy at LeftCult.com.

Sources include:



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