Rep. Cori Bush is facing even more pressure over her campaign payments to her husband for private security services.
The Missouri Democrat added Cortney Merritts, her now spouse, to her campaign's payroll in January 2022 and has since paid him $90,000 from the committee, federal filings show. Merritts did not have a security license in the St. Louis area or Washington, D.C., as of earlier this year and appeared to own a moving company.
The payments and Merritts' lack of a license, which an official previously told Fox News Digital is needed to perform security functions in the St. Louis region, has led to a slew of complaints from watchdog groups such as the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) and the Committee to Defeat the President.
The Committee to Defeat the President is further ramping up the pressure. The group recently sent several supplements to previous complaints, as well as new complaints, to the likes of the Office of Congressional Ethics, the D.C. Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection, the Department of Justice and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department over Bush's setup and Merrits' failure to register as a security professional.
"It turns out members of 'The Squad' aren't the progressive revolutionaries they claim to be; they're just run-of-the-mill Beltway grifters," Ted Harvey, chairman of the Committee to Defeat the President, told Fox News Digital.
Harvey said Bush is lining her family's pockets at donors' expense and "breaking local and federal laws in the process."
"She either paid her ex-lover and now-husband to perform illegal work, or just paid him meretriciously," he added. "But, either way, she broke the law and fumbled the cover-up. Americans deserve better, and our Committee is determined to hold her accountable in Washington, D.C., and back in Missouri, the same way any Republican would be held accountable by the radical Left."
Bush's campaign recently switched the language of the payments amid criticism of the arrangement. From the time Merritts initially appeared on the payroll until early April of this year, the campaign marked his checks as "security services."
However, the campaign modified the reported expenditures from "security services" to "wage expenses" in mid-April while the checks remained in identical amounts. They continued using the new language until the end of the most recent reporting period, her filings show.
The Committee to Defeat the President requested each of the four entities investigate the matter immediately.
Soon after Bush and Merritts married in February, her office announced they had been together before she entered Congress in 2021 — more than a year before she added him to her campaign's payroll in January 2022. Her campaign sent Merritts bimonthly $2,500 checks totaling $60,000 last year while disbursing hundreds of thousands to the protection firm. The campaign added $30,000 in additional payments to Merritts this year in identical amounts.
Merritts did not have a private security license as of late February, Fox News Digital reported. Individuals must have a permit to perform security functions in St. Louis and its neighboring St. Louis County, which encompasses Bush's entire congressional district, a local official said at the time.
Merritts also did not appear in a Washington, D.C., database of licensed security specialists, and Bush's campaign did not respond to several prior emails on the matter. The payments have subsequently triggered at least two FEC complaints from watchdog groups.
Even before adding Merritts to her payroll, Bush faced criticism for using private security. In July 2021, Fox News Digital first reported on Bush's security payments while pushing to defund police, initiating CBS News inquiries about the cash and whether hiring a security detail while pushing to strip money from law enforcement was hypocritical.
"They would rather I die?" Bush asked. "You would rather me die? Is that what you want to see? You want to see me die? You know, because that could be the alternative."
The progressive lawmaker said she would ensure she has security because she has had attempts on her life and has "too much work to do."
"So suck it up, and defunding the police has to happen," she added.
Bush's campaign did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.