April 20, 2024

Cori Bush’s campaign pays $17,500 more to her husband, bringing his total to $120K, new filings show

Rep. Cori Bush, who is now facing a Justice Department probe into her campaign spending on private security, paid her husband an additional $17,500 from her committee in recent months, new filings show.

The Missouri Democrat’s new filings, submitted to the Federal Election Commission late Wednesday night, show that her campaign made seven additional payments for $2,500 each to her husband, Cortney Merritts, between October 1 and December 31.

The new payments maintained the steady flow of checks to her husband over the past two years. After Bush and Merritts married in February 2023, her office revealed they had been together before she entered office in 2021.

Merritts initially gathered money for security services starting in January 2022, but Bush’s committee switched their description to “wage expenses” in April 2023 as they continued to bring headaches to the campaign.

Merritts has now collected $120,000 from Bush’s campaign coffers. Politicians can pay family members from their committees as long as they provide “bona fide” services at fair market value. He pocketed the money as Bush’s campaign simultaneously spent significantly more with St. Louis-based companies such as PEACE Security for private detail. She’s spent over $770,000 on such services.

Meanwhile, Merritts, whose online accounts and posts have indicated he worked at a railroad company for years before starting a moving company, did not have a private security license as of late February 2023. He also did not appear in a Washington, D.C., database of licensed security specialists, Fox News Digital previously reported.

The ordeal triggered at least two complaints from watchdog groups in the following weeks. The first complaint, filed to the FEC in March 2023 by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, is still pending. The ethics committee has since cleared Bush in a second complaint from the Committee to Defeat the President.

Fox News Digital reached out to Bush’s campaign numerous times over the past several years regarding the payments – first, regarding the security payments in general as she pushed to defund the police, then regarding the payments to Merritts after they married – but they did not respond to a single inquiry.

Due to this, Fox News Digital confronted Merritts in October as the couple left a D.C. fundraiser for California Democrat candidate Derek Marshall. During the exchange, Merritts appeared to backtrack about his role on the campaign after telling the videographer he doesn’t have one.

“I have a question for you,” the videographer said. “What’s your role on the campaign right now?”

“I don’t have a role in the campaign, man,” Merritts responded.

“You don’t have a role at all?” the videographer countered. “They were reporting you had wages on the campaign for security, and then it was a general wage. I was just wondering what you’ve been doing on the campaign?”

“Yeah, I mean you can Google what it is,” Merritts replied. “You can also Google what happened with the FEC report came back 5-0, that it was all completely above board.”

“So you’re not doing any more work with her campaign?” the videographer said.

“Am I doing work with the campaign?” Merrits said. “Obviously, I am. I’m still [inaudible], right?”


“You’re still a part of it?” the videographer asked.

“Am I still employed with it? Yes, so obviously, I’m going to work with it,” Merritts said. “What’s this whole ‘gotcha’ s—? I’m not a politician, man, so ask me a question, man-to-man, and I’ll answer. So what’s your question?”

“That was it, about the campaign,” the videographer responded.

“I’m still in the campaign; I still do security with the campaign. Have a good night, man. Be safe,” Merritts said before getting into the car with Bush.

Earlier this week, Bush confirmed the Justice Department is investigating her campaign spending on security services and said her office is “fully cooperating.”

“Since before I was sworn into office, I have endured relentless threats to my physical safety and life,” Bush said in a Tuesday statement. “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.”

“These frivolous complaints have resulted in a number of investigations, some of which are still ongoing,” Bush said. “The Federal Election Commission and the House Committee on Ethics are currently reviewing the matter, as is the Department of Justice. We are fully cooperating in all of these pending investigations.”

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