Rep. Cori Bush Grilled Over Campaign Payments to Husband's Security Services

Rep. Cori Bush Grilled Over Campaign Payments to Husband's Security Services

Missouri Democrat Rep. Cori Bush is facing heightened scrutiny concerning her campaign’s payments to her husband, Cortney Merritts, for private security services.

The controversy arose after Merritts was added to her campaign’s payroll in January 2022 and has since received $90,000 from campaign funds.

Federal filings reveal that Merritts lacked a security license in both the St. Louis area and Washington, D.C., and was seemingly associated with a moving company.

The payments made to Merritts, coupled with his absence of a security license, have sparked complaints from watchdog groups like the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) and the Committee to Defeat the President. The latter group has escalated its efforts, submitting additional complaints to various entities including the Office of Congressional Ethics, the D.C. Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection, the Department of Justice, and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. These complaints highlight Bush’s arrangement and Merritts’ failure to register as a security professional.

Ted Harvey, the Chairman of the Committee to Defeat the President, criticized Bush’s actions, suggesting that she is benefiting her family at the expense of donors and potentially violating local and federal laws. The group intends to hold her accountable for her actions.

In response to criticism, Bush’s campaign altered the description of the payments from “security services” to “wage expenses.” This modification was made after concerns were raised about the arrangement. However, the checks remained of the same amount. The campaign continued to use the updated language until the most recent reporting period.

Bush and Merritts’ marriage in February added complexity to the situation. Reports indicate that they were together before Bush’s entry into Congress in 2021, more than a year before Merritts’ inclusion in her campaign’s payroll. Despite his lack of a private security license, Bush’s campaign continued to disburse payments to Merritts, sparking multiple FEC complaints.

Even prior to this controversy, Bush faced criticism for advocating to defund the police while employing private security.


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