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'Squad' member under DOJ investigation is still paying her husband with campaign funds, filings show

Missouri Democratic Rep. Cori Bush has paid her husband $15,000 from her campaign this year amid a federal probe into her campaign spending on purported security expenses.

Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., paid her husband another $15,000 from her candidate committee this year even as she faces a Justice Department probe into her campaign spending, new filings show.

The progressive "Squad" member's campaign made two $2,500 wage payments to her spouse, Cortney Merritts, each month between January 1 and March 29, according to documents submitted to the Federal Election Commission and released on Monday. 

In total, the Bush campaign has now paid Merritts $135,000 for security services since January 2022, which have been listed as "wage expenses" since April 2023. 

The Bush campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CORI BUSH'S CAMPAIGN PAYS $17,500 MORE TO HER HUSBAND, BRINGING HIS TOTAL TO $120k, NEW FILINGS SHOW

In January, Bush released a statement that confirmed Department of Justice investigators were reviewing her campaign committee's spending on security services. "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.

"In accordance with all applicable laws and House rules, I retained my husband as part of my security team to provide security services because he has extensive experience in this area, and is able to provide the necessary services at or below a fair market rate."

Politicians can pay family members from their committees as long as they provide "bona fide" services at fair market value. However, Merrits pocketed the money as Bush's campaign simultaneously spent significantly more on St. Louis-based companies, such as PEACE Security, for private detail. She has spent over $770,000 on such services.

Merritts, whose online accounts and posts have indicated he worked at a railroad company for years before starting a moving company, did not have a private security license as of late February 2023. He also did not appear in a Washington, D.C., database of licensed security specialists, Fox News Digital previously reported

CORI BUSH'S CAMPAIGN CONTINUES TO SHELL OUT THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS TO HER HUSBAND FOR PRIVATE SECURITY

Watchdog groups have filed at least two complaints against Bush over the security payments. The first complaint, filed by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust last year, is still pending. The House Ethics Committee has since cleared Bush in a second complaint from the Committee to Defeat the President.

Bush's campaign has declined to respond to multiple Fox News Digital inquiries about the payments.

In October, Fox News Digital confronted Merritts as the couple left a Washington, D.C., fundraiser for California Democrat candidate Derek Marshall. During the exchange, Merritts appeared to backtrack about his role in the campaign after telling the videographer he does not have one.

"I don't have a role in the campaign, man," Merritts told a videographer when asked what his role in the campaign is. 

CORI BUSH'S CAMPAIGN PAID HER HUSBAND FOR SECURITY SERVICES - BUT HE DOESN'T HAVE A PRIVATE SECURITY LICENSE

However, when pressed, he said he was employed with the campaign. 

"I'm still in the campaign; I still do security with the campaign. Have a good night, man. Be safe," Merritts said before getting into a car with Bush.

FEC filings also show Bush is still at a significant cash disadvantage in the Democratic primary for Missouri's 1st Congressional District.

Ahead of the Aug. 6 primary, Bush reported $528,622 cash on hand as of March 31. Her opponent, Wesley Bell, a progressive prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County who differs from Bush in his Israel stance, has more than double at his disposal, with $1.14 million in his war chest. 

Bell is backed by wealthy Democratic donors, including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, who contributed the maximum of $6,600 to his campaign for the primary and general elections, filings show. 

A recent poll found that Bush may also be in trouble come August. Bell is currently up by 22 points over the "Squad" member, the New York Post reported.

Fox News Digital's Joe Schoffstall contributed to this report.

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