‘Possible Criminal Violation’: Rep. Cori Bush Changed Description Of Campaign Payments To Husband, FEC Filings Show

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James Lynch Investigative Reporter
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Democratic Missouri Rep. Cori Bush altered the description of her campaign’s payments to her husband in July Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings.

Bush’s campaign sent her husband Cortney Merritts a “wage expense” payment worth $2,500 on six different occasions from April to June 2023, according to FEC filings. Bush’s campaign also sent Merritts $2,500 for “security services” on April 3, 2023, the filings disclose. The campaign paid him five times for “security services” from January to March of 2023, Bush’s April FEC filings show. (RELATED: Cori Bush Gets Ratioed After Claiming To Have Been Homeless, Turns Out She Might Have Done It To Herself)

“Federal law and FEC regulations strictly limit the use of federal campaign funds. Under 52 U.S.C. 30114 and FEC regulation 11 CFR 113.1 (g)(H), salary payments can be made to a member of a candidate’s family but only if the family member is providing bona fide services to the campaign at fair market value,” Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow Hans von Spakovsky told the Daily Caller.

“If these are not payments for actual services being provided, or if he is being paid more than the fair market value of his services, then Bush is violating federal campaign finance law. If she is doing it knowingly and intentionally, it goes from being a civil violation to a possible criminal violation,” he added. Spakovsky is also the manager of Heritage’s Election Law Reform Initiative.

Bush and Merritts married in February 2023, local outlet KSDK first reported. The couple obtained a marriage license in St. Louis on Feb. 11 and married a few days later. Bush’s campaign filings from the 2022 midterm election cycle show the campaign paid Merritts more than $60,000 for “security services,” despite him lacking a security license in St. Louis, where Bush’s Congressional district is located, Fox News reported.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civil Trust (FACT) filed a complaint with the FEC in March and requested the agency investigate Bush for allegedly misusing her campaign funds to pay her husband

“Rep. Bush’s payments to her husband are the subject of FACT’s complaint before the OCE because numerous facts indicate her payments to him may not have been for bona fide services at a fair market value as required by law — she has a close personal relationship with him, the possibility that he was providing security services that were unnecessary and duplicative, and he didn’t have a license to provide those services,” FACT Executive Director Kendra Arnold told the Daily Caller.

“This re-characterization of the payments to her husband appears to be an attempt to hide information from the public, which is contrary to the law that requires a candidate to clearly describe the ‘purpose of disbursement.’ Especially in this case, the description of ‘wage expenses’ fails to provide adequate information to the public,” Arnold added.

The Committee to Defeat the President (CDP), an anti-Joe Biden activist group, sent the FEC a supplemental complaint in July over the new description Bush’s campaign used to classify the payments to Merritts. CDP sent the FEC a separate complaint in March urging the FEC to look into Bush’s campaign finance.

The group is also sending supplemental materials to the Office of Congressional Ethics, Department of Justice, the St. Louis Police Department and the D.C. Department of Licensing, CDP told the Daily Caller.


“Cori Bush is competing hard to be The Squad’s most corrupt member, but we think it ought to be a race to hold her accountable  — in Washington, D.C. and back home in Missouri. For someone who complains so much about the American system, she sure knows how to exploit it for power and profit, breaking campaign finance laws —and multiple local laws — in the process. Our Committee won’t take the pressure off Bush until accountability becomes the reality her constituents deserve,” CDP Chairman Ted Harvey told the Daily Caller in a statement.

Bush rose to prominence as a Black Lives Matter activist and vocally supports the “defund the police” movement. She was first elected in 2020 and became part of “the squad,” a group of outspoken progressive lawmakers led by Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Bush, Ocasio-Cortez and other “squad” members have spent thousands on private security since 2021 while pushing to defund the police, the Daily Caller previously reported.

“With all due respect, Mr. President. You didn’t mention saving Black lives once in this speech,” Bush tweeted in March 2022 after President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address. “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.”

Bush’s campaign did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment at the time of publication.