Cori Bush Draws FEC Scrutiny Over Campaign Payments to Husband’s Firm

“Squad” member Cori Bush is raising eyebrows with her election campaign’s disbursement of campaign funds to her husband’s private security firm, drawing interest from the Federal Election Commission.

Democratic Representative Cori Bush from Missouri made revisions to the description of payments issued to her husband in the FEC filings for July.

In the FEC records, it is documented that Bush’s campaign disbursed a payment labeled as a “wage expense” to her husband, Cortney Merritts, on six separate occasions from April to June 2023. Additionally, the campaign also transferred $2,500 to Merritts categorized as “security services” on April 3, 2023. The filings for April reveal that the campaign compensated him five times for “security services” between January and March 2023.

“Federal law and FEC regulations strictly limit the use of federal campaign funds. Under 52 U.S.C. 30114 and FEC regulation 11 CFR 113.1 (g)(H), salary payments can be made to a member of a candidate’s family but only if the family member is providing bona fide services to the campaign at fair market value,” Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow Hans von Spakovsky told the Daily Caller.

“If these are not payments for actual services being provided, or if he is being paid more than the fair market value of his services, then Bush is violating federal campaign finance law. If she is doing it knowingly and intentionally, it goes from being a civil violation to a possible criminal violation,” he added. Spakovsky is also manager of Heritage’s Election Law Reform Initiative.

Bush and Merritts entered into marriage in February 2023. The couple secured a marriage license in St. Louis on February 11 and formalized their union shortly thereafter. Bush’s campaign documentation from the 2022 midterm election cycle reveals that Merritts received compensation exceeding $60,000 for what were termed “security services,” notwithstanding his lack of a security license in St. Louis, where Bush’s Congressional district is situated.

In March, the Foundation for Accountability and Civil Trust (FACT) submitted a complaint to the FEC, urging the agency to launch an investigation into Bush’s alleged misuse of her campaign funds for payments to her husband.

“Rep. Bush’s payments to her husband are the subject of FACT’s complaint before the OCE because numerous facts indicate her payments to him may not have been for bona fide services at a fair market value as required by law — she has a close personal relationship with him, the possibility that he was providing security services that were unnecessary and duplicative, and he didn’t have a license to provide those services,” FACT Executive Director Kendra Arnold told the Daily Caller.

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“This re-characterization of the payments to her husband appears to be an attempt to hide information from the public, which is contrary to the law that requires a candidate to clearly describe the ‘purpose of disbursement.’ Especially in this case, the description of ‘wage expenses’ fails to provide adequate information to the public,” Arnold added.

In July, the Committee to Defeat the President (CDP), an activist group opposed to Joe Biden, submitted an additional complaint to the FEC regarding the updated categorization that Bush’s campaign applied to the payments made to Merritts. CDP had previously lodged a distinct complaint with the FEC in March, urging an examination into Bush’s campaign financial matters.

The group has also conveyed supplementary documents to various entities, including the Office of Congressional Ethics, the Department of Justice, the St. Louis Police Department, and the D.C. Department of Licensing, as confirmed by CDP’s communication with the Daily Caller.

CDP Chairman Ted Harvey told the Daily Caller in a statement, “Cori Bush is competing hard to be The Squad’s most corrupt member, but we think it ought to be a race to hold her accountable  — in Washington, D.C. and back home in Missouri. For someone who complains so much about the American system, she sure knows how to exploit it for power and profit, breaking campaign finance laws —and multiple local laws — in the process. Our Committee won’t take the pressure off Bush until accountability becomes the reality her constituents deserve.”

Bush rose to prominence as a Black Lives Matter activist and vocally supports the “defund the police” movement. She was first elected in 2020 and became part of “the squad,” a group of outspoken progressive lawmakers led by Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Bush, Ocasio-Cortez and other “squad” members have spent thousands on private security since 2021 while pushing to defund the police, the Daily Caller previously reported.

“With all due respect, Mr. President. You didn’t mention saving Black lives once in this speech,” Bush tweeted in March 2022. “All our country has done is given more funding to police. The result? 2021 set a record for fatal police shootings. Defund the police. Invest in our communities.”

By Melinda Davies
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