With three high-profile U.S. House representatives — two Democrats and one Republican — currently facing investigations over alleged ethics violations, there is one thing deeply-divided Americans seem to agree on: none of the lawbreaking lawmakers are likely to ever face any serious consequences for their actions.
Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), George Santos (R-N.Y.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) have all been accused of ethics violations for various reasons — reasons that should outrage all Americans, regardless of which party they favor.
As American Wire News reported, Bush, a staunch “defund the police” advocate, paid her former security guard, Cortney Merritts, more than $60,000 last year from her campaign in direct payments — a possible violation of House ethics rules.
Cori Bush ignores Congressional ethics, marries employeehttps://t.co/JBEyN6VHRF
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) February 27, 2023
According to those rules: “Campaign funds are not to be used to enhance a Member’s lifestyle, or to pay a Member’s personal obligations. Members have wide discretion in determining what constitutes a bona fide campaign or political purpose to which campaign funds and resources may be devoted, but Members have no discretion whatsoever to convert campaign funds to personal use.”
Bush justified her use of private security and flying with her beau by her side because she was receiving death threats.
“They would rather I die?” Bush asked CBS News in a 2021 interview. “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.”
In what feels like a dismissal of Congressional concerns, Bush married Merritts in February.
“With heartfelt congratulations, I am happy to confirm that Congresswoman Cori Bush married the love of her life, Cortney Merritts, this month,” Bush’s chief of staff, Abbas Alawieh, announced in a statement. “Mr. Merritts, a veteran of the U.S. Army and a security professional, has been Congresswoman Bush’s partner since before her Congressional tenure and is not employed by her Congressional office. Our team has come to know and appreciate Mr. Merritts as a loving and caring Congressional spouse.”
On Thursday, Bush was hit with a complaint from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for allegedly paying her now-husband, “even though he didn’t have the required license,” the New York Post reports.
“[W]e request the FEC investigate whether Rep. Bush converted campaign funds for personal use by paying a salary that was not for bona fide services at fair market value,” the nonpartisan Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) wrote in its legal complaint on Thursday. “Ultimately, if one or more campaign laws are found to have been broken, we request the FEC hold the respondents accountable.”
Meanwhile, fellow Squad member, AOC, is in hot water over her 2021 Met Gala tickets.
The House Office of Congressional Ethics found “substantial reason to believe” that Ocasio-Cortez “accepted impermissible gifts associated with her attendance at the Met Gala in 2021,” according to Fox News.
The former bartender went viral when she showed up to the exclusive event as a guest of Vogue’s Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour in a white dress plastered with the words “Tax the Rich” in red.
“In 2021, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was invited to and attended the Met Gala with Mr. Roberts. As part of her attendance, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was provided with a couture dress, handbag, shoes, and jewelry. She also received hair, makeup, transportation, and ready-room services. Riley Roberts received a bowtie and shoes in advance of the event,” the ethics report states. “While Rep. Ocasio-Cortez appears to have now paid for the rental value of the attire she wore to the Met Gala and for the goods and services she and her partner received in connection with this September 2021 event, payment for these goods and services did not occur until after the OCE contacted her in connection with this review.”
“However, the ethics office says that Ocasio-Cortez may have not paid for ‘several thousands of dollars’ worth of goods and services provided to her,'” Fox News reports.
Ocasio-Cortez’s counsel responded to the ethics review by stressing that AOC is super mad that the payments were delayed, but she did not violate House rules.
“Though no Ethics violation has been found, the Office of Congressional Ethics (‘OCE’) did identify that there were delays in paying vendors for costs associated with the Congresswoman’s attendance at the Met Gala. The Congresswoman finds these delays unacceptable, and she has taken several steps to ensure nothing of this nature will ever happen again,” attorney David Mitrani said on Ocasio-Cortez’s behalf.
“However, while regrettable, this matter definitively does not rise to the level of a violation of House Rules or of federal law,” he argued. “Even after OCE’s exhaustive review of the Congresswoman’s personal communications, there is no evidence that she ever intended to avoid these expenses. To the contrary, the record clearly shows that the Congresswoman always understood that she had to pay for these expenses personally — and she even worked with the undersigned counsel prior to the event to ensure that she complied with all applicable ethics rules.”
While the questionable antics of Bush and Ocasio-Cortez have only received minimal coverage in the media, the accusations against the apparent pathological liar, Republican Rep. George Santos, have garnered many headlines in recent weeks.
Former George Santos staffer accuses congressman of sexual harassment, violating House pay rules https://t.co/zRETiPoITD pic.twitter.com/0MkFkr3Dy5
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) February 6, 2023
“The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday it is officially moving forward with a probe into embattled Rep. George Santos as the New York Republican faces mounting legal issues and calls to resign for extensively lying about his resume and biography,” CNN reports. “The Ethics Committee said in a news release that it voted to set up an investigative subcommittee with authority to look into a number issues, including whether Santos may have engaged in unlawful activity related to his 2022 congressional campaign.”
The investigative panel will determine whether Santos “may have engaged in unlawful activity with respect to his 2022 congressional campaign; failed to properly disclose required information on statements filed with the House; violated federal conflict of interest laws in connection with his role in a firm providing fiduciary services; and/or engaged in sexual misconduct towards an individual seeking employment in his congressional office,” according to the committee’s statement.
With all of these promises of investigations, many Americans, weary from years of vows to “get to the bottom of” multiple missteps from elected officials, have little faith that the probes will result in any real consequences.
There will be no consequences for Cori Bush’s husband being paid for a non-existent job like Ilhan Omar’s. Both women complain about how bad the US is from positions in Congress that make them rich and allow them to break the laws of our country with impunity.
— Gigi (@12GGlassman) March 2, 2023
Nothing is going to happen to AOC. Consequences aren’t how corruption works.
— jimtreacher.substack.com (@jtLOL) March 3, 2023
I hold out little hope of consequences. What is going to happen to Santos, a strongly worded rebuke? He'll just end up enriching himself with inside information.
Consequences are only for regular citizens without connections or money. https://t.co/ZbNgH8FUGp
— Lorraine (@CrimsonGash) March 2, 2023
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