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The Department of Justice is investigating a Democratic lawmaker suspected of misusing federal funds that were intended for private security.
Punchbowl News first reported the allegations after they became public on Monday.
On Tuesday afternoon, the House clerk officially read a message from the Sergeant at Arms’ office, informing the House chamber that they had received a grand jury subpoena from the DOJ.
“The Sergeant at Arms is the chief law enforcement and protocol officer of the House of Representatives and is responsible for maintaining order in the House side of the United States Capitol complex,” the official House website said, according to Breitbart News.
“The Sergeant at Arms reviews and implements all issues relating to the safety and security of Members of Congress and the Capitol complex. The Sergeant at Arms also coordinates extensively with the U.S. Capitol Police and various intelligence agencies to assess threats against Members of Congress and the Capitol complex,” the notice added.
While the notice did not name the Democratic lawmaker, subsequent reports noted that it is Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri, a member of the far-left “Squad” who has been under scrutiny recently for using private security.
🚨BREAKING NEWS — THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT is conducting a criminal probe into @CoriBush, according to six sources familiar with the investigation.
The Justice Department subpoenaed the House Sergeant at Arms for records relating to the misspending of federal security money.…
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) January 30, 2024
Bush was the subject of a complaint filed against her by a government watchdog group that is asking the Federal Elections Commission to investigate her payments to her husband for private security services, Fox News reported.
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust sent the complaint to Lisa Stevenson, the acting general counsel for the FEC, in March, asking the commission to investigate whether “Rep. Cori Bush and her campaign committee may have used campaign funds for personal use.”
“Bush’s campaign paid her now-husband, Cortney Merritts, $60,000 for security in 2022 despite him not having a private security license, which is needed to conduct such services in the St. Louis region. While Merritts collected the payments, Bush’s campaign also spent $225,281 with PEACE Security and $50,000 with an individual named Nathaniel Davis for personal protection,” Fox News reported.
Cori Bush under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice for allegedly misusing funds meant for private security: Democrat married one of her bodyguardshttps://t.co/Rq7FqrA5bv
— ALX 🇺🇸 (@alx) January 30, 2024
🚨DOJ conducting criminal probe into “Squad” member Rep. Cori Bush in relation to misspending of federal security money
Could this be connected to the THOUSANDS she paid to her HUSBAND for private security while voting to defund the police for Americans?
Throwback to the time… pic.twitter.com/Zy8Xl7bq8E
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) January 30, 2024
“It appears Rep. Bush’s campaign may have made payments for services that were unnecessary or above fair market value because of her personal relationship with the payee,” the group said. “If so, these payments would qualify as either impermissible payments to a family member or an impermissible gift.”
“Therefore, we request the FEC investigate whether Rep. Bush converted campaign funds for personal use by paying a salary that was not for bona fide services at fair market value,” it said. “Ultimately, if one or more campaign laws are found to have been broken, we request the FEC hold the respondents accountable.”
She made the payments to her husband though he did not have a license to provide security in St. Louis or anywhere in Rep. Bush’s district.
“With the exception of St. Louis Police Officers, all persons performing a security function in the City of St. Louis must be licensed to do so through the Private Security Section,” the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said on its website.
'Squad' Rep. Cori Bush hit with FEC complaint over private security payments to husbandhttps://t.co/TzPZzFfsvB
Political office should not be used to enrich yourself. It should be a selfless act to help your country. #TermLimits #AgeCap
— OneSmallVoice 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 (@SmilingOutrage) March 2, 2023
“Over the same period, Cori Bush for Congress also paid PEACE Security — a St. Louis-based company that provides clients with ‘security operators’ from military or law enforcement backgrounds — a total of $225,281.77, according to FEC records,” the New York Post noted in late February.
In August 2021, two sheriff’s deputies from St. Louis have been terminated for working as private security for Missouri Rep. Cori Bush.
Bush, who has famously called for “defunding the police,” has had her own private security detail, but these two deputies had been previously warned not to act as her security sans filling out the proper paperwork, KMOV 4 reported.
“St. Louis Sheriff Vernon Betts … told News 4 he was surprised to see the two security guards because they also worked for him. The sheriff told News 4 Jackson and Thompson violated policy by not getting approval to work a secondary shift as security guards. He said the two were warned not to do it again, but several weeks later, he said his office was called by the VA police in Jefferson Barracks, who said the two men were again providing security for Bush,” KMOV added.