DOJ Investigating Rep. Cori Bush Over Alleged Misuse of Campaign Funds

The Missouri Democrat is accused of using campaign funds to pay for her personal security detail which included her husband, who was a part of the team.

Rep. Cori Bush is currently being investigated by the Justice Department over allegations of misappropriating funds for her personal security detail, CBS News reports. 

According to sources close to the situation, the House sergeant at arms was subpoenaed by the Justice Department in search of records “related to Bush's use of security funds.”

For her personal security team, Bush retained Cortney Merritts, her husband claiming that his services were at or below market rate. Politico reported that the campaign paid him $42,500 in the first three quarters of last year for “wage expense” and “security services.” In total, Bush spent $129,660.22 on personal security services in 2023.

In an official statement released on Tuesday (Jan.30), Bush confirmed that the federal probe is underway and she has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

"First and foremost, I hold myself, my campaign, and my position to the highest levels of integrity,” Bush’s statement read. “I also believe in transparency which is why I can confirm that the Department of Justice is reviewing my campaign's spending on security services.”

“As a rank-and-file member of Congress I am not entitled to personal protection by the House, and instead have used campaign funds as permissible to retain security services,” the statement continued. “I have not used any federal tax dollars for personal security services. Any reporting that I have used federal funds for personal security is simply false.”

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Bush also defended bringing her husband on the team because of his expertise in security matters.

“In particular, the nature of these allegations have been around my husband’s role in the campaign," Bush argued. "In accordance with all applicable rules, I retained my husband as part of my security team to provide security services because he has had extensive experience in this area, and is able to provide the necessary services at or below a fair market rate."

Also in her statement, Bush said she has encountered "relentless threats to my physical safety and life" since her election to Congress and in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection in 2021.

Because she does not receive taxpayer-funded personal security, Bush said she used campaign funds "as permissible to retain security services” adding that she has "not used any federal tax dollars for personal security services."

Although members of Congress are prohibited from using campaign funds for personal use, when it comes to hiring personal security, there are some loopholes. Lawmakers are allowed to use that campaign funds for private security and can hire family members as long as they provide a “bona fide service at a fair market value.”

Christie Stephenson, a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries noted that Bush is in full cooperation with the investigation.

"Like any other American, she is entitled to the presumption of innocence," Stephenson said. "It is our expectation that the investigation will follow the facts, apply the law, and be conducted in a professional manner."

In addition to the DOJ, the Federal Election Commission and the House Committee on Ethics are also reviewing the matter.

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