Representative Cori Bush (D-MO), a member of the progressive sub-faction of the Democratic party dubbed “The Squad,” has been doling out campaign money to her husband in a potentially illegal fashion. Between April to June 2023 she sent her husband, Cortney Merritts, wage expense payments worth $2,500 on six different occasions. Her campaign also paid him for security services between January and March of 2023. These acts have raised eyebrows among some of being potential violations of campaign finance law.
Hans von Spakovsky, a Senior Legal Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, remarked, “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.”
He further explained, “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.”
It bears mentioning that Cortney Merritts does not have a security license in St. Louis, the city where Bush’s district resides. The two married in February 2023 but Bush’s campaign did business with Merritts before then, In 2022 Mr. Merritts received more than $60,000 from her campaign. The Foundation for Accountability and Civil Trust (FACT) filed a complaint about this and demanded an investigation be done by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
FACT Executive Director Kendra Arnold announced, “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.”
Arnold further commented, “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.”
The Committee to Defeat the President (CDP), an anti-Joe Biden group, sent a number of complaints to the FEC about Bush’s activities. CDP Chairman Ted Harvey said, “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.”