Rep. Cori Bush confirmed Tuesday that she is under multiple investigations over her use of campaign funds to hire her husband to provide her personal security.
The issue is currently under investigation by the Justice Department, the Federal Election Commission and the House Committee on Ethics.
What did Bush say?
In a lengthy statement, the second-term progressive Democrat from Missouri said she was “fully cooperating” with investigators — and denied any wrongdoing.
“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. “I have not used any federal tax dollars for personal security services.
“In recent months, right-wing organizations have lodged baseless complaints against me, peddling notions that I have misused campaign funds to pay for personal security services. That is simply not true,” she continued. “I have complied with all applicable laws and House rules — and will continue to prioritize the rules that govern us as federal elected officials.”
Bush also pointed to a previous investigation into the matter by the Office of Congressional Ethics, which in October unanimously cleared Bush of any wrongdoing.
Her statement came a day after the Justice Department served a subpoena to the office of the House Sergeant at Arms for related documents. The subpoena was read aloud on the House floor.
Punchbowl News first reported that Bush was the subject of a federal probe.
What are they investigating, exactly?
According to the Associated Press, federal prosecutors “have been asking questions about Bush’s security expenses, the threats she received and her decision to pay her now-husband Cortney Merritts with campaign funds to provide security.”
Since being elected to Congress in 2020, Bush, a former Black Lives Matter activist, has been the target of right-wing attacks — and was forced to hire private security even before arriving on Capitol Hill.
“I’m going to make sure I have security because I know I have had attempts on my life and I have too much work to do,” Bush told CBS News in August 2021. “So, if I end up spending $200,000 ... you know what? I get to be here to do the work.”
More recently, Bush, a member of the “Squad” of progressive House Democrats, has been the target of criticism by conservative groups for her criticism of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.
Alleged misuse of campaign funds in Congress
Bush is not the first member of this Congress to be investigated for alleged misuse of campaign funds. In December, New York Rep. George Santos was expelled from the House following a scathing report by the House Ethics Committee that concluded the first-term Republican defrauded donors by using money raised during his campaign on things like Botox, luxury goods and the adult content website OnlyFans.
For now, House Democrats are taking a wait-and-see approach with Bush.
“Representative Cori Bush has indicated that she is fully cooperating with the Department of Justice in connection with the ongoing investigation,” Christie Stephenson, a spokeswoman for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, said in a statement. “Like any other American, she is entitled to the presumption of innocence.”