Missouri Rep. Cori Bush has called questions over her lavish spending on security – including on her future husband – “political attacks.” But now there appears to be a legal dimension to the questions.
Punchbowl News, citing “six sources familiar with the investigation,” reports the Department of Justice is probing the St. Louis congresswoman’s actions.
“The Justice Department subpoenaed the House Sergeant at Arms for records relating to the misspending of federal security money,” the outlet posted on X.
Hinting at the apparent hypocrisy, the New York Post reports that, “Over her first two years in office, Bush dropped nearly $500,000 on private security while embracing the ‘Defund [Police]’’ movement.”
In a statement read on the House floor Monday, the chamber’s sergeant at arms announced, “This is to notify you formally pursuant to rule 8 of the rules of the House of Representatives that the office of the sergeant at arms for the House of Representatives has been served with a grand jury subpoena for documents issued by the U.S. Department of Justice.” The statement went on to say the office would comply with the subpoena.
Fox News also reported two sources have confirmed “the Justice Department is investigating Squad member Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., over the alleged misuse of government funds intended to pay for her security.”
“Bush’s husband and former security guard, Cortney Merritts, whom she married in February 2023, has pocketed more than $100,000 in payments since Bush added him to her campaign’s payroll in January 2022 for what they marked as ‘security’ payments before switching their description to ‘wage expenses’ in April,” Fox reported.
Last March, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) formally asked the Federal Election Commission to look into whether Bush “used campaign funds for personal use.” The complaint noted a 2022 payment to Merritts of $60,000 for security services, the National Review has reported.
Merritts, Fox says, “pocketed the security payments despite not having a St. Louis private security license, which is needed to perform security functions in the area, Fox News Digital has discovered. Merritts also received the campaign’s cash as it simultaneously paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a St. Louis security firm and another individual for personal protection. …
“Merritts also does not appear in a database of licensed security professionals in the Washington, D.C. area.”
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has said the “last security license issued to [Merritts] expired in 2012.”
Bush’s marriage to Merritts a year ago makes the payments to him even more of a focus.
“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,” FACT wrote in its complaint. “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.”