Democratic Missouri Rep. Cori Bush married private security guard Cortney Merritts in a private ceremony in St. Louis earlier this February, marriage records show.
Bush and Merritts signed their marriage license Feb. 11, a few days before their wedding, according to local outlet KSDK. She previously described herself as a single mother with two children from a relationship before her marriage to Merritts.
SCOOP: U.S. Rep. Cori Bush married one of her security guards in a private ceremony, according to marriage records filed in St. Louis. Her campaign paid him $62,359 for security services and gas reimbursements last year. First reported on @KSDKNews. https://t.co/r6nZxRsfcE
— Mark Maxwell (@MarkMaxwellTV) February 27, 2023
Campaign finance records show Bush paid Merritts $62,359 for security services beginning in 2022, after their relationship began. Merritts’ Facebook posts show he traveled to Bush’s 2021 House inauguration and went with her to an appearance on Stephen Colbert and a trip to Central America, KSDK reported.
Bush has spent $627,088 on private security since August 2020, when the “defund the police” movement rose to prominence during the summer 2020 Black Lives Matter riots. Bush was elected in November of 2020 and supported defunding the police despite the criticism it received from prominent Democrats.
The Daily Caller first reported in April 2021 that Bush and other prominent progressive Democratic Reps. known as “the squad,” were spending thousands of dollars on private security while supporting defund the police. From April to June 2021, Bush spent $70,000 of campaign funds on private security, nearly a third of her campaign budget for the second quarter of 2021.
Bush defended her use of private security and doubled down on defunding the police in August 2021. She claimed she would die without private security and blamed opponents for pushing a “racist narrative” against her.
With all due respect, Mr. President. You didn’t mention saving Black lives once in this speech.
All our country has done is given more funding to police. The result? 2021 set a record for fatal police shootings.
Defund the police. Invest in our communities. https://t.co/t0n0EpHMwd
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) March 2, 2022
As recently as March 2022, Bush expressed support for defunding the police and criticized Democrats who explicitly rejected the movement, such as President Joe Biden and New York City Mayor Eric Adams.