U.S. Congresswoman Cori Bush from St. Louis is under a federal investigation over alleged misuse of funds to pay for security. She confirmed the investigation in a statement Tuesday saying that the Department of Justice is reviewing her campaign’s spending on security services and that she is cooperating fully.
The investigation was prompted by a complaint from The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) filed with the Federal Elections Commission in March of 2023. The ethics watchdog organization challenges payments to Bush’s now-husband for serving in her security detail: “Salary payments to a member of the candidate’s family, unless the family member is providing bona fide services to the campaign.”
The letter cites, “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.”
There are no prohibitions to hiring family members with campaign funds. Bush argues that she has endured “relentless threats to her physical safety” and the need for a security team. She says he husband, Cortney Merritts, has “extensive experience” in that area — and provided security services at or below a fair market rate. In her statement to the press at the Capitol Tuesday, the congresswoman said there are other investigations– and a favorable outcome for her in one:
“These frivolous complaints have resulted in a number of investigations, some of which are still ongoing. The Federal Election Commission and the House Committee on Ethics are currently reviewing the matter, as is the Department of Justice. We are fully cooperating in all these pending investigations.” Bush said. “In September of last year, 2023, after conducting a month-long investigation, the Office of Congressional Ethics found no wrongdoing and voted unanimously to dismiss the case. I look forward to the same outcome from all impending investigations.”
According to The Hill website, California Rep. Pete Aguilar, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, declined to comment on the allegations.
LISTEN TO BUSH’S FULL STATEMENT: (2:37)