Newly elected New York congresswoman and notoriously amazing dancer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, is making history as the youngest woman to serve in Congress. She's pretty tight-lipped about her private life, and so her relationship with web developer boyfriend Riley Roberts is low-key. It's so low-key, in fact, that you might not have known they were a couple. Or even that she had a boyfriend (ahem, me). So who is Riley Roberts, the private and fiercely supportive boyfriend to one of the most up-and-coming congresswomen in the United States?
He works in tech.
According to LinkedIn, Roberts is head of marketing at HomeBinder.com, which helps people manage the maintenance on their homes. He also works as a consultant to help tech startups grow revenue using marketing and development. It looks like he hails from Boston, Massachusetts, with a dual degree from Boston University.
While some might think that a transition into politics after being thrust into the public eye and moving to Washington D.C., Roberts is still continuing on his aforementioned career path, despite the rumors that conservatives opposing Ocasio-Cortez may be spreading. Back in February, conservative podcast host Luke Thompson tweeted a picture of Roberts's email, claiming in the caption that the freshman representative was paying Roberts to be a member of her staff, "drawing a salary on the taxpayer's dime." Ocasio-Cortez hopped on social media to provide a humbling reality check and remind the nosy Neds of Twitter to mind the business that paid them. "Actually this cal designation is a permission so he can have access to my Google Cal," replied Ocasio-Cortez. "Congressional spouses get Gcal access all the time.Next time check your facts before you tweet nonsense." Checkmate.
He met Ocasio-Cortez in college.
A Vogue profile on Ocasio-Cortez described Roberts as an "easygoing redhead" (lol) and explains that he's been supportive of her for a looooong time.
Then there’s Roberts, whom Ocasio-Cortez met—“in true nerdy fashion,” she says—at a weekly Friday-afternoon conversation hosted by the dean at BU. He later moved from Arizona to be with her. When I first met him backstage at The Daily Show, he was casually citing tax rates in the 1950s.
Apparently, the couple still occasionally heads back up to the Northeast: "In August, she and Roberts took a vacation to Acadia National Park in Maine."
He attended her swearing-in.
Roberts was there with Ocasio-Cortez's brother Gabriel (black suit and glasses) and her mother Blanca (who held the Bible for her daughter, in a black-and-white dress). Roberts is the tall, bearded gentleman at the far right who was literally beaming from ear to ear in support of his history-making girlfriend.
Roberts also gave his reactions briefly to the New York Post: "A really incredible day, really special." He added that he liked Washington, D.C., thus far. "It’s great."
He's occasionally on her social media.
Again, the couple is very quiet about their relationship, but on Ocasio-Cortez's Instagram announcement that she'd be running for Congress, he's the tall bearded fellow in the third image in the back (swipe through):
Ocasio-Cortez also mentioned him in a Twitter post where she rightly took the GOP and media to task for going to Roberts' family's home looking for slanderous stories about her.
It doesn't look like Roberts has social media of his own, and he clearly has no issue staying quiet but supportive. Hilariously, sometimes Roberts gets mistaken as a volunteer instead of her partner.
Recently, he caught social media's attention after appearing in Netflix's Knock Down the House. In the award-winning documentary (which follows the 2018 primary campaigns of Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin), many got a proper glimpse at the superstar progressive's leading man, and they were surprised enough by Roberts's look to take to Twitter to share their two cents. After coming across several comments about her boyfriend's aesthetic (especially one particularly mean-spirited reaction that spawned a Twitter meme), Ocasio-Cortez later shared a few clips of her man fresh out of the barbershop via her Instagram story. "The Internet roasted Riley into getting a haircut/glowup after #KnockDownTheHouse,” joked Ocasio-Cortez as her partner, looking dapper in a trimmed beard and stylish haircut, shyly tried to avoid the camera.
He's a supportive partner.
In a New York Times article, Roberts is not named, simply called her "partner." Ocasio-Cortez talks about the difficulties of not having a salary for months at a time and how the two plan for it. “We’re kind of just dealing with the logistics of it day by day, but I’ve really been just kind of squirreling away and then hoping that gets me to January,” she said.
The Vogue profile referenced that the couple lived in the Bronx (where Ocasio-Cortez is originally from) in a one-bedroom. Now, of course, the couple lives in D.C. for Ocasio-Cortez's new role.
Her mom loves him.
In perhaps the most Mom move I've ever witnessed, Ocasio-Cortez's mom Blanca gave a gushing interview to the Daily Mail about how much she wants the pair to get engaged. (Because isn't that exactly what your mom would do if you were to become an overnight political superstar?)
"I love him. He is the most loving, supporting person I've seen. He helped her tremendously during the election," Blanca told the Daily Mail. "They've been together for four years now, after they reconnected from a college breakup. I know they love children, and they do very well with children from the family. So, I hope they get married soon." She added—and I giggled at this part most of all—"Although they haven't told me anything about their plans."
Perhaps in a nod to why Ocasio-Cortez keeps her personal life private, Blanca added: "'I don't like the limelight for myself and my family. But it seems that God played quite a joke on me with this politics stuff."
Blanca Ocasio-Cortez, everybody. Just like your mom, if your mom were interviewed about the Daily Mail and asked about your love life. (You can read more about Blanca, who's had an impressive life of her own, here.)
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