Investigating Cori Bush for Alleged Misuse of Campaign Funds

The Department of Justice has launched an investigation into Democratic Rep. Cori Bush for allegedly misusing campaign money to spend on private security, the Missouri congresswoman confirmed in a statement Tuesday.

Although the scope of the allegations were not immediately known, a congressional ethics inquiry had previously raised questions about her alleged use of campaign funds to hire her husband, Cortney Merritts, as her security. Federal law bars lawmakers from paying family members to work in their official offices, unless they are providing “bona fide” services to the campaign. The Office of Congressional Ethics dismissed a complaint filed against Bush last fall after concluding that her husband had performed bona fide security work and was not overpaid.

According to Federal Election Commission filings, Bush paid Merritts $60,000 in 2022 and $42,500 in 2023. The couple got married in Feb. 2023.

“As a rank-and-file member of Congress I am not entitled to personal protection by the House, and instead have used campaign funds as permissible to retain security services,” Bush said in a statement. “I have not used any federal tax dollars for personal security services.” She said she is “fully cooperating” with the investigation.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Under federal election law, House members may use campaign funds to pay for private security for protection when not at the Capitol only if the money is used for “bona fide” security services.

Bush, a former Black Lives Matter organizer whose district includes St. Louis, has played a key role in the progressive wing of the House Democratic caucus since her election in 2020, becoming a member of the group of Democratic lawmakers known as “the Squad.” Bush is currently running for re-election.

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