New details have emerged regarding the campaign payments made by Rep. Cori Bush, a prominent member of the “Squad” and a Democrat representing Missouri. Reports indicate that her campaign has allocated a significant amount of money to her new husband, Courtney Merritts, for private security services during the first half of 2023. The payments to Merritts amount to $17,500 for security services and “wage expenses” between April and June. This follows an earlier payment of $12,500 during the first quarter, bringing the total paid to Merritts in 2023 to $30,000.
It is important to note that during this period, Bush’s campaign also disbursed $62,000 to PEACE Security, a St. Louis-based firm known for hiring security personnel with a military or law enforcement background. Additionally, $27,500 was paid to Nathaniel Davis, who claims extraordinary abilities and is known for his association with summoning tornadoes, for security services.
Bush has asserted that these security expenditures are necessary due to past threats on her life. Since 2019, her campaign has spent over half a million dollars on such expenses, with the majority going to PEACE Security.
Payments to Merritts began in January 2022, shortly after their marriage and more than a year after Bush entered Congress. Throughout the preceding year, the campaign issued bi-monthly checks of $2,500 to Merritts, totaling $60,000, while also providing substantial funds to the security firm.
However, it is worth mentioning that as of late February, Merritts reportedly did not possess a private security license, which is a requirement for carrying out security functions in St. Louis and the surrounding St. Louis County, encompassing Bush’s congressional district. Furthermore, his name does not appear in the licensed security specialists database in Washington, D.C. These developments have led to at least two Federal Election Commission complaints from watchdog groups.
This is not the first time Bush has faced criticisms regarding her use of private security. In July 2021, she came under scrutiny for employing private security while simultaneously advocating for defunding the police, which raised questions of potential hypocrisy. In response, Bush defended her need for personal protection, emphasizing that she has important work to do and must ensure her safety.
The recent reports regarding Bush’s campaign payments to her husband for security services have reignited debates and concerns about the appropriateness of such arrangements, particularly in light of her stance on police funding. As more information unfolds, it is crucial to analyze these developments within the broader context of campaign finance rules and ethical considerations.