Progressive 'Squad' member Rep. Cori Bush confirms DOJ investigation into campaign hiring husband for private security services

 February 7, 2024

Politico reported over the weekend that several members of the far-left progressive "Squad" of House Democrats were facing potentially career-ending problems in the form of personal controversies, primary challenges, and for at least one of them, a federal criminal investigation.

The "Squad" member who faces the possibility of criminal charges is Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), who is alleged to have improperly spent campaign funds on supposed security services provided by her husband.

Bush, who used her prominence as a St. Louis-based Black Lives Matter and "defund the police" activist to vault herself into Congress, confirmed last month that she is under federal investigation for her security spending but defended her actions and insisted she had done nothing wrong.

Bush confirms investigation, denies any wrongdoing

Axios reported last week that controversy erupted when the House Sergeant-at-Arms announced, albeit without naming names, that a member of the House had been served with a Justice Department subpoena, and it didn't take long before some media outlets learned that Rep. Bush was the target of the federal probe.

The outlet observed that while a federal investigation was always "bad news" for members of Congress, this bad news for the progressive activist-turned-lawmaker was particularly troublesome given that she is facing a "well-funded" primary challenge from a moderate local prosecutor named Wesley Bell.

In a lengthy statement released the same day, the leftist congresswoman confirmed that she was being investigated and that she was "fully cooperating" with the federal probe. In addition to the DOJ probe, Bush also noted that she was under investigation by the Federal Election Commission and the House Ethics Committee, though she pointed out that she had previously been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Office of Congressional Ethics.

She went on to explain that, due to the "relentless threats" she purportedly faced and the lack of House-provided security services, she has used "permissible" campaign funds -- but no "federal tax dollars" -- to pay for her personal security.

Bush blames unnamed "right-wing organizations" for "baseless" probes

Newsweek reported that Rep. Bush proceeded to blame unnamed "right-wing organizations" as fueling the investigations she faced with "baseless" and "frivolous complaints" about her having "misused campaign funds to pay for personal security services," an allegation that "simply is not true."

She insisted that she had "complied with all applicable laws and House rules" and defended the hiring of her husband to provide security services because he had "extensive experience in this area, and is able to provide the necessary services at or below a fair market rate."

Bush concluded that she was "under no illusion that these right-wing organizations will stop politicizing and pursuing efforts to attack me and the work the people of St. Louis sent me to Congress to do."

Legitimate questions about relevant private security experience and licensing

Fox News reported that multiple ethics complaints were filed against Rep. Bush in 2023 after it was discovered that she was paying her husband, Cortney Merritts, with campaign funds to provide security services despite the fact that he had no obvious experience in that area, having previously worked for a railroad and his own moving company.

It also did not appear that Merritts was properly licensed to provide private security in either Missouri or Washington D.C.

The outlet noted that, to date, FEC filings show that Merritts has been paid at least $120,000 from campaign funds since January 2022, which is just a portion of the total $770,000 she has spent on security overall with the hiring of a St. Louis-based private firm known as PEACE Security.

To be sure, campaign finance laws allow for a congressional member to hire spouses and family members if they provide a "bona fide" service to the campaign at a fair market rate, but given the questions about Merritts' relevant experience and licensing status, the investigations seem to be warranted.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
© 2015 - 2024 Conservative Institute. All Rights Reserved.