What happened: Another member of "The Squad," a consortium of radical left-wing Democratic lawmakers, has been caught funneling campaign money to her male lover.
Rep. Cori Bush (D., Mo.) married her private security guard, Cortney Merritts, in a secret ceremony last month. The revelation raised concern among ethics advocates who pointed out that Bush's campaign had paid Merritts more than $62,000 since January 2022, long after the pair became romantically involved.
Despite being paid for security services, Merritts does not appear to have a private security license, which is required to perform security services in St. Louis, where Bush's district is located. He did have a security license at some point, but it expired in 2012.
Why it matters: Bush is the second "Squad" member to come under fire for using campaign funds to line the pockets of her romantic partner. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), the 2019 Anti-Semite of the Year, married her top political consultant Tim Mynett in 2020 after funneling more than $500,000 to Mynett's firm.
Context: Before marrying him, Omar repeatedly denied allegations that she was dating Mynett, probably because he was married to another woman at the time. Court documents indicate that Mynett separated from his wife in April 2019 after admitting he was "romantically involved with and in love with another woman, Ilhan Omar."
Omar married Mynett less than a year later and continued to funnel the majority of her campaign funds to his firm, the E Street Group, which raked in nearly $3 million from his wife's campaign during the 2020 election cycle.
More context: Bush, who wants to defund the police, has spent more than $600,000 in campaign funds on private security, including the payments to her then-boyfriend. She spends more on private security than almost every other member of Congress—by far.
What they're saying:
• "Cori Bush's payments of $62,360 for security services to her lover and now husband from her campaign funds raises the question of whether he is being paid for providing legitimate security services or simply for escorting her to events as her partner." — Paul Kamenar, counsel to the National Legal and Policy Center.
• "Suck it up, and defunding the police has to happen. We need to defund the police." — Cori Bush, in response to critics of her exorbitant security spending.
Bottom line: The "Squad," described by some as the future of the Democratic Party, is comprised of radical left-wing politicians who consistently engage in ethically dubious behavior. For example, an investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics recently found "substantial reason to believe" that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) violated House ethics rules by failing to promptly repay the hairstylist, makeup artist, and other service workers who helped her attend the 2021 Met Gala in an infamous "Tax the Rich" dress.