Representative Cori Bush is facing intensifying scrutiny regarding payments made to her husband for private security services through her campaign.
In January 2022, the Missouri Democrat, Cori Bush, included Cortney Merritts, her current spouse, in her campaign’s payroll. Federal records indicate that since then, she has disbursed $90,000 to him from the campaign committee. Notably, Merritts lacked a security license in the St. Louis area or Washington, D.C., at least up to earlier this year, and his background appeared to involve a moving company.
These payments and Merritts’ absence of a required license, which is necessary to carry out security tasks in the St. Louis region according to a previous statement by an official to Fox News Digital, have generated criticism from watchdog organizations like the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) and the Committee to Defeat the President.
The Committee to Defeat the President is intensifying its efforts, submitting additional and new complaints to entities such as 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 relate to Bush’s arrangement and Merritts’ failure to register as a security professional.
Ted Harvey, Chairman of the Committee to Defeat the President, remarked, “It turns out members of ‘The Squad’ aren’t the progressive revolutionaries they claim to be; they’re just run-of-the-mill Beltway grifters.” He accused Bush of enriching her family at the expense of donors and of violating local and federal laws.
The Committee asserts that Bush either paid her former partner and now-husband for unlawful work or made payments without merit. Regardless, they contend that she violated the law and mishandled the situation. Harvey emphasized the Committee’s commitment to holding her accountable both in Washington, D.C., and back in Missouri, similar to how any Republican would be treated by the radical Left.
Amid criticism of this arrangement, Bush’s campaign recently altered the terminology used for the payments. Initially labeled as “security services” from Merritts’ entry onto the payroll until early April of the current year, the campaign subsequently changed the reported expenditures to “wage expenses” in mid-April. Despite this linguistic shift, the payment amounts remained consistent. The updated language persisted until the end of the most recent reporting period, as indicated by her filings.
The Committee to Defeat the President has urged each of the four relevant entities to initiate an immediate investigation into this matter.
Shortly after marrying Merritts in February, Bush’s office disclosed that their relationship predates her entrance into Congress in 2021, emphasizing that Merritts was added to her campaign payroll in January 2022. Throughout the previous year, the campaign issued Merritts bimonthly checks of $2,500, totaling $60,000, alongside substantial disbursements to a security firm. In the current year, the campaign extended an additional $30,000 to Merritts in equal installments.
As of late February, Merritts did not possess a private security license, a fact noted by Fox News Digital. A permit is mandatory for performing security tasks in both St. Louis and its neighboring St. Louis County, which encompasses Bush’s entire congressional district.
Merritts was also absent from a Washington, D.C., database of licensed security specialists. The campaign did not respond to previous inquiries on this matter. Consequently, these payments prompted at least two FEC complaints from watchdog groups.
Even prior to Merritts’ inclusion on her payroll, Bush had faced criticism for employing private security. In July 2021, Fox News Digital first reported on her security payments while she advocated defunding the police, prompting inquiries into the potential contradiction between pushing for reduced police funding while hiring a security detail.
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In response, Bush defended her need for security, citing threats on her life and her determination to continue her work. She expressed that defunding the police was necessary, stating, “So suck it up, and defunding the police has to happen.”