Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s fiancé has largely dodged the limelight, even though he regularly pops up on the congresswoman’s Instagram stories and has been by her side for the extent of her meteoric political rise.
Meet Riley Roberts, the all-but-silent partner to the Democrats’ congressional darling, who has been on her arm since college to the 2021 Met Gala and “Tax the Rich” and every stop in between.
Ocasio-Cortez has several times stood up for her man – and his footwear choices – as they have gone from sweethearts at Boston University to engaged in April 2022.
How did they meet?
The two met while they were students at Boston University, where Roberts was pursuing degrees in sociology and finance and the future congresswoman was studying international relations and economics.
They met at a weekly topic-based chat hosted by the university’s dean, where Ocasio-Cortez was reportedly known to often ask questions and debate. The pair dated for a time but went their separate ways for a time after college.
Ocasio-Cortez was raised by Puerto Rican-American parents, born in the Bronx and schooled in Yorktown in suburban Westchester County. Roberts grew up in wealthy area of Arizona, the son of a real estate agent.
He graduated from top-ranked Chaparral High School in nearby Scottsdale in 2008 after winning statewide honors in public-forum debate.
After college, he built Web sites for small businesses. He also did marketing for HomeBinder, an online home-management service.
After Roberts returned to Arizona after college, he began work as a web developer before he reunited with the future congresswoman in New York. By then, the future member of the left-leaning “Squad” was working in food service.
Has he helped her campaign?
Roberts helped his then-girlfriend in what seemed at first like a longshot bid for Congress against Democratic Party powerhouse and 10-term incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley.
He hit the streets to collect signatures to put her on the ballot and filmed her trip to the Board of Elections to hand them in. And during her run, Roberts provided $1,750 worth of “in-kind contributions” doing work on her Web site.
During his girlfriend’s campaign, Roberts received $6,000 from Brand New Congress, a political action committee that helped launch her bid, federal election records show. The PAC was founded by Saikat ChakrabartiChakrabarti, who would later become Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff.
At the same time, her campaign was paying Brand New Congress LLC, a company set up by Chakrabarti, $18,880 for “strategic consulting.”
Word of that ethical no-no followed a 2018 report that showed Roberts listed as a staffer on Congress’ internal directory — an anomaly Chakrabarti dismissed as a typical courtesy extended to spouses and partners of Congress members.
“The conspiracy machine is in full effect,” Ocasio-Cortez fumed on Twitter in response.
And Chakrabarti at the time posted a convoluted explanation justifying his group’s payment to Roberts, which he said was for online fund-raising services.
Chakrabarti, a Wall Street and Silicon Valley veteran, founded the PAC and LLC in 2017 to get left-wing Democrats elected. Of the 30 candidates his group endorsed in the 2018 midterms, only Ocasio-Cortez won.
In the years since she her election, Roberts has sometimes been seen on Ocasio-Cortez’s Instagram feeds, such as in 2020 where he discussed “combatting racism as a white person.”
Steve Cortes, a former campaign advisor for Donald Trump, and other GOPers took issue with Roberts showing “his gross pale male feet in public” by wearing sandals during a trip to Miami in 2021. AOC rushed to her love’s defense, slamming Republicans as “creepy weirdos” for their “obsession with Riley’s feet.”
Ocasio-Cortez confirmed they were engaged in Puerto Rico in April 2022.
Additional reporting by Mark Lungariello, Kevin Fasick, Sydney Denmark and Dana Schuster