Rep. Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democratic congressman is accused of having paid his wife and son over $50,000 from his campaign committee since 2019, according to records from the Federal Elections Commission.
According to records, his son Jeffrey has received close to $45,000 for primarily “field services” and “field operations services,” while his wife Paulette has received compensation of almost $11,000 for “accounting services,” according to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a common practice, but it does happen,” Kendra Arnold, executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“It’s illegal to pay a family member anything above fair market value for their services. The practice is frowned upon because it is really difficult to determine if it is fair market value.”
According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) documents, Democratic Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush has a history of using his main campaign committee to pay his wife and son who was convicted of a crime around $56,000 since 2019.
According to documents, Rush, a former Black Panther Party leader who has held office for 15 terms, gave his third wife Paulette Holloway Rush almost $11,000 between June 2021 and March 2022. On June 17, 2021, the congressman made a notable $3,600 payment to Paulette, a Christian minister.
The contributions came from the Citizens for Rush committee, which has a mailing address in Chicago and has raised more than $220,000 during the most recent election cycle. Rush, who serves as a church pastor in Chicago, announced his retirement in January.
Although it is lawful to pay family members as long as they receive fair market value, ethical experts “frowned upon” the practice because it is “very difficult to determine “what that value is, Kendra Arnold, executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“When a candidate contracts with an independent person they’re not related to, obviously they’re going to negotiate for the best price and the fair market price,” said Arnold, whose nonprofit aims to promote accountability and transparency in government. “But when they negotiate with a family member, it’s a lot harder to determine whether or not they did that.”
Members of Congress are allowed to pay family members “only if the family member is providing a bona fide service to the campaign and the payments reflect the fair market value of those services,” an FEC spokeswoman told the DCNF: “However, the regulations do not further define ‘fair market value,’” the spokeswoman added.