Dem-led House Ethics Committee rules Rashida Tlaib violated campaign finance laws, won’t call it fraud

Get the latest BPR news delivered free to your inbox daily. SIGN UP HERE.


Two days after radical Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a member of the so-called “squad,” won her primary election, bad news came barreling at her like a pickup truck.

On Thursday, the Democrat-led House Ethics Committee published a damning report accusing Tlaib of violating campaign finance laws and demanding she reimburse her 2018 campaign with $10,800. Ouch.

However, the Democrat-produced report stopped short of concluding that the congresswoman had committed this veritable fraud on purpose and instead chose to attribute it to so-called “bad timing.”

“The Committee, after further reviewing the allegations, has determined that the evidence is sufficient to support a determination that a portion of the salary payments that Representative Tlaib received after the 2018 general election was inconsistent with the requirements outlined by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) and its implementing regulations,” the report reads.

“The Committee also recognizes, however, that Representative Tlaib’s violation of the applicable restrictions was one of bad timing and not ill intent. Representative Tlaib engaged in good faith efforts to comply with the relevant FECA requirements. The Committee did not find that she sought to unjustly enrich herself by receiving the campaign funds at issue.”

Read the full report below:

A probe of Tlaib’s finances was launched by the committee last fall after the Office of Congressional Ethics forwarded its own findings to it in mid-August.

“OCE reviewed allegations that, Representative Tlaib’s campaign committee, Rashida Tlaib for Congress (the Campaign), reported campaign disbursements that may not be legitimate and verifiable campaign expenditures attributable to a bona fide campaign or political purposes,” the report above reads.

“Specifically, OCE considered whether salary payments that Representative Tlaib received after the 2018 general election, totaling $17,500,were prohibited under campaign finance laws and regulations governing the personal use of campaign funds.”

The issue first surfaced in the spring of 2019 thanks to the journalists at the Washington Free Beacon, who, after examining Tlaib’s finances, discovered anomalies.

Federal Election Commission provisions explicitly state that election candidates may only pay themselves up “through the date of the general election, up to and including the date of any general election runoff.”

Tlaib won the Nov. 6th, 2018 election outright, meaning she was supposed to have stopped paying herself at that date. Yet she didn’t.

“Following the general election, Tlaib cut herself a $2,000 check on Nov. 16 and disbursed $15,500 to herself on Dec. 1, which was well above the average of what she was paying herself during the campaign,” the Beacon reported in March of 2019.

In a preliminary report published last November, the House Ethics Committee confirmed that these allegations were accurate.

“Rep. Tlaib was paid $2,000.00 on November 16, 2018 for work performed between November 1, 2018 and November 15, 2018, and was thereafter paid $15,500.00 on December 1, 2018 for work performed (or to be performed) between November 16, 2018 and December 31, 2018,” that report read.

In total, she collected more than $17,000 after the conclusion of her campaign.

As “exhibit” evidence, the committee’s initial report also cited internal campaign emails that showed the “financially strapped” congresswoman speaking with her campaign officials in 2018 about how she could boost her salary via campaign money.

“In an April 4, 2018 email, Rep. Tlaib first advised her campaign manager, Andy Goddeeris, and her campaign consultant, Steve Tobocman, that she was ‘struggling financially,’” the report read.

“She went on to state: ‘I was thinking the campaign could loan me money, but [campaign staffer] Ryan [Lomonco] said the committee could actually pay me. I was thinking a one time payment of 5K.’”

In the email, which can be viewed below, she also complained that her former husband, Fayez Tlaib, “doesn’t pay child support”:

She reportedly tried to pull a similar stunt later that month.

“On April 27, 2018, Rep Tlaib emailed a larger group of campaign staff about her personal financial concerns. In this communication, she explained that she was ‘not going to make it through the campaign without a stipend,’ and requested ‘$2,000 per two weeks but not exceeding $12,000,’” the report continued.

View the “Exhibit” evidence below:

In response to the committee’s original report, the congresswoman issued a lengthy statement complaining about her life as a “single mother.”

“When I ran for Congress in 2018, I had to leave my job as a civil rights attorney at the Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice to focus on campaigning full-time, while continuing to support my two young sons as a single mother,” she said.

She also argued that she’d collected less than she was “entitled to receive” under the regulations maintained by the FEC.

“During the campaign, I received the minimum salary payments necessary for me to meet my personal financial obligations, while ensuring that the campaign reserved the resources needed to reach voters. All in all, I was paid less than I was entitled to receive under FEC regulations,” she said.

This still didn’t explain her decision to continue collecting money even after the election concluded.

She concluded her statement by saying, “I look forward to the Ethics Committee’s prompt resolution of this matter in my favor.”

It appears she’s gotten some of her wish. The committee has essentially acquitted her of being a malicious fraud and liar, despite so much evidence to the contrary.

It’s unclear though how the congresswoman feels about having to pay back $10,800, though given her salary and how much money she’d siphoned from her campaign, she ought to have no difficulty paying it.

It’s also unclear whether Tlaib’s performance in the 2020 primary race would have been different had the Democrat-led House Ethics Committee released its report before — versus after — Tuesday’s election.

Vivek Saxena

Comments

Latest Articles