Home » Embattled Rep Cori Bush faces campaign cash crunch; trails Dem primary challenger in money on hand

Embattled Rep Cori Bush faces campaign cash crunch; trails Dem primary challenger in money on hand

by John Jefferson
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Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who is facing a Justice Department investigation over her campaign’s security spending, which includes payments to her husband, has a campaign cash crunch and is trailing her Democrat primary challenger in terms of money on hand.

Bush’s campaign has struggled to retain cash six months after the Aug. 6 Democrat primary. In fact, her committee’s most recent filings show that it entered January with just $215,000 at its disposal. Her opponent, Wesley Bell, a progressive prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County who differs from Bush in his Israel stance, is currently better positioned and ended the fourth quarter with $408,000 in the bank.

Bell has also seen a fundraising surge since pivoting from challenging Republican Sen. Josh Hawley to entering the Democrat primary against Bush. From the beginning of October until late December, his campaign raised $492,000 and slightly edged Bush’s money haul. He reportedly added another $100,000 in the first few weeks of January, his campaign told the Riverfront Times, which is not included in his most recent filing.

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

Along the way, Bell has also garnered the support of some deep-pocketed Democrat donors, such as LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, who gave the maximum $6,600 to his campaign for the primary and general elections, his 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.

In addition to her campaign’s substandard position, Bush is also staring down a federal investigation into her campaign payments for security, including to her husband, Cortney Merritts, who she wed in February 2023. At the time of their marriage, Bush’s office said they had been together before she entered Congress in 2021.

Merritts began accumulating money for security services starting in January 2022. Bush’s committee, however, switched their description to “wage expenses” in April 2023 as they continued to bring scrutiny to the campaign.

Merritts has now collected $120,000 from Bush’s campaign coffers. Politicians can pay family members from their committees if they provide “bona fide” services at fair market value. He pocketed the money as Bush’s campaign simultaneously spent significantly more on St. Louis-based companies such as PEACE Security for private detail. She’s spent over $770,000 on such services.

WATCH: CORI BUSH’S HUSBAND CONFRONTED OVER THE THOUSANDS IN CASH HE HAS RECEIVED FROM HER CAMPAIGN

Cori Bush at DC protest

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

The ordeal triggered at least two complaints from watchdog groups in the subsequent weeks. The first complaint, filed to the FEC in March 2023 by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, is still pending. The ethics committee has since cleared Bush in a second complaint from the Committee to Defeat the President.

“Since before I was sworn into office, I have endured relentless threats to my physical safety and life,” Bush previously said in response to the Justice Department investigation. “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.”

Congresswoman Cori Bush Missouri

“These frivolous complaints have resulted in a number of investigations, some of which are still ongoing,” Bush said. “The Federal Election Commission and the House Committee on Ethics are currently reviewing the matter, as is the Department of Justice. We are fully cooperating in all of these pending investigations.”

Bush’s and Bell’s campaigns did not respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.



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