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Rep Cori Bush Continues Paying Husband’s Salary Despite Campaign Finance Complaints, Records Show

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

James Lynch Investigative Reporter
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Democratic Missouri Rep. Cori Bush’s campaign continues to pay her husband’s salary for unknown services despite campaign finance complaints accusing the Bush campaign of wrongdoing, records show.

The Cori Bush campaign’s Federal Election Commission (FEC) records for July through September 2023 indicate her husband, Cortney Merritts, was paid $12,500 for an unknown “wage expense” and $350 for a “gas expense” incurred in the most recent fundraising quarter. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Cori Bush Campaign Threatens Attorney Who Filed Complaints About Payments To Her Husband)

Merritts received five $2,500 payments from Cori Bush for Congress despite campaign finance complaints from multiple organizations, according to the FEC records. The payments were previously classified as security services until the Bush campaign changed the classification in April, previous FEC filings indicate. (RELATED: ‘Possible Criminal Violation’: Rep. Cori Bush Changed Description Of Campaign Payments To Husband, FEC Filings Show)

Merritts is not a licensed security guard in either Washington, D.C., or St. Louis and his most recent professional experience appears to be in the moving industry, Fox reported. Bush’s campaign began paying Merritts in the 2022 election cycle and he has brought in more than $100,000 from his wife’s congressional campaigns, Fox News found.

Her campaign defended its payments to Merritts in a letter sent to conservative attorney Dan Backer in September. Backer filed the complaints on behalf of the Committee to Defeat the President (CDP), an anti-Joe Biden activist organization.

“We demand that you retract the complaints you have filed that are demonstrably false. Failure to do so – or continued repetition of these false statements with knowledge that they are false and without merit may result in liability for your client,” the Bush campaign’s counsel wrote to Backer.

“In addition, we believe that the continued assertion by you of these claims with absolutely no basis whatsoever in law or in fact that is not frivolous, could well constitute a violation of Rule 3.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the District of Columbia Bar.”

Campaigns are allowed to pay for “bona fide, legitimate, professional personal security personnel” to protect themselves from threats, according to an FEC ruling previously reported by Roll Call. It’s unclear if Merritts qualifies as a “professional” security guard because he is unlicensed in D.C. and St. Louis, where security guards are required to hold licenses.

The CDP wrote a letter in September countering the Bush campaign’s claims and accusing the campaign of making unsupported allegations. The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), an ethics watchdog organization, also filed a complaint in March about the payments to Merritts.

“First, the Committee filed a complaint about Cori Bush’s potentially illegal acts. Then, we updated that complaint, exposing Bush’s attempts to cover it up and calling out her husband for providing what seem to be unlicensed security services,” Backer previously told the Caller.

“And Bush’s response? Threatening those who try to expose her corruption. You know you’re on the trail of real corruption when they hide behind lawyers and refuse to come clean.”

Bush is a progressive Democrat, a member of the “squad” — a group of left-wing lawmakers led by Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — and an advocate for defunding urban police departments, despite her campaign expenditures on private security.

Bush’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.