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Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., has faced scrutiny for paying her husband, Cortney Merritts, $15,000 from her candidate committee this year, bringing the total paid to him for security services to $135,000 since January 2022. The payments were made in two $2,500 installments each month between January and March. Bush confirmed that the Justice Department is investigating her campaign committee’s spending on security services. She defended her decision to hire her husband, stating that he offered necessary services at fair market value.

While politicians are allowed to pay family members from their committees for services rendered, Merritts did not have a private security license as of late February 2023. Despite this, the Bush campaign continued to make payments to him while also spending significant sums on other security companies in St. Louis. Watchdog groups have filed complaints against Bush over the security payments, but the House Ethics Committee has cleared her of any wrongdoing in at least one instance. Bush’s campaign has remained silent on the issue in response to inquiries.

In October, Fox News Digital confronted Merritts at a Washington, D.C. fundraiser, where he initially denied having a role in the campaign before admitting to being involved in providing security services. Bush’s opponent in the Democratic primary for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District, Wesley Bell, has a significant cash advantage with over $1.14 million in his war chest compared to Bush’s $528,622 as of March 31. Bell is backed by wealthy Democratic donors, including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, who has contributed the maximum amount to his campaign.

Despite the controversy surrounding the payments to her husband and facing a cash disadvantage in the primary race, a recent poll showed that Bush may be in trouble come August, with Bell leading by 22 points. The situation underscores the ongoing debate about politicians using campaign funds to pay family members for services and the potential ethical implications that may arise. The outcome of the Justice Department’s probe into Bush’s campaign spending on security services remains to be seen.

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