FEC Complaint Filed Over Squad Member Cori Bush’s Private Security Payments to Husband

Marxist Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) is one of the newer members of the America-hating Democrat Squad serving in Congress.

Bush made a name for herself during the Ferguson riots when leftist protesters looted and burned down the Ferguson business district not once but twice in 2014.

Bush also pushed the Democrat Party’s Defund the Police campaign but pays $200,000 a year for her own personal security.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a government watchdog group, has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to investigate campaign payments of $62,359 from Bush to her husband Cortney Merritts for security services.

Bush and Merritts recently married but have been together since before Bush took office. It appears that Merritts was added to her campaign’s payroll after the start of their relationship.

On their website, FACT shares, “We are dedicated to exposing unethical behavior and making sure it receives the attention it deserves. From completing a thorough investigation to employing an aggressive television, print, and social media strategy, FACT will not simply hope the truth comes out—we will ensure it does. The mission of FACT is simple:  To strengthen our republic by demanding the truth.”

The complaint reads: 

Payments that are not for bonafide services at fair market value could fall under one of two prohibited categories—“payments to family members” or “gifts”. Candidates may not use campaign funds for personal use. “Personal use means any use of funds in a campaign account of a present or former candidate to fulfill a commitment, obligation or expense of any person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s campaign or duties as a Federal officeholder.” Personal use includes: “Salary payments to a member of the candidate’s family, unless the family member is providing bona fide services to the campaign. If a family member provides bona fide services to the campaign, any salary payment in excess of the fair market value of the services provided is personal use.” Personal use also includes “gifts” greater than a “nominal value . . .made on a special occasion.”
During 2022, Bush’s campaign paid $571,856 for security services. Those payments  included $225,281 to PEACE Security, $62,359 to Cortney Merritts, and $50,000 to Nathaniel Davis. The payments to Merritts were bi-monthly in the amount of $2,500. However, reportedly Merritts does not have a St. Louis private security license, which is needed to perform security services in the area that encompasses Bush’s entire district, nor does he appear within the government database of licensed security professionals in the Washington D.C. area. It was recently revealed that Bush has had a personal relationship with Merritts since before she took office in 2021 and they were married in February 2023.

At issue is this case is whether the payments made to Merritts were for a bona fide service and at a fair market rate, and if not then they would be either a impermissible gift or a  payment to a family member. When a campaign negotiates salary payments with an unrelated  party, both sides negotiate for their best interest and generally fair market value is naturally reached and paid for a service the campaign needs. However, when the campaign hires someone with whom the candidate has a close personal relationship, there may be favoritism or an incentive for the campaign to pay for services that are not necessary or pay above the fair market value for those services. These types of payments are subjected to more scrutiny, especially when other factors present indicate the payments were not for bona fide services at fair market value. In this case Bush and Merritts clearly had a close relationship that resulted in marriage and there are other factors present, namely that (1) the payments were regularly made at the same time the campaign was apparently paying a security company for the exact same services and (2) the  payee did not have a license to perform the services for which he was being paid.

Based on the facts above, it appears Rep. Bush’s campaign may have made payments for services that were unnecessary or above fair market value because of her personal relationship with the payee. If so, these payments would qualify as either impermissible payments to a family member or an impermissible gift. Therefore, we request the FEC investigate whether Rep. Bush converted campaign funds for personal use by paying a salary that was not for bona fide services at fair market value. Ultimately, if one or more campaign laws are found to have been broken, we request the FEC hold the respondents accountable.
The full complaint can be read below.

Cori Bush FEC complaint by JoeSchoffstall

 

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