FIRST ON FOX: Rep. Cori Bush’s campaign funneled thousands of dollars to her new husband for private security services in recent months, records reviewed by Fox News Digital show.
The Missouri Democrat’s committee pushed $12,500 to her spouse, Cortney Merritts, between January and the end of March, according to her campaign’s newly released filings. During this time, the ‘Squad’ member also moved $26,000 to the St. Louis-based PEACE Security, which hires several “security operators” with military or law enforcement experience, despite her opposition to them, their website states.
Bush has been among Congress’ top spenders on private security, which she said she needs because there have been attempts on her life. Since 2019, she’s dropped more than a half million dollars into the personal detail, which primarily has gone to PEACE Security.
Rep. Cori Bush added her new husband to her campaign payroll in January 2022. (Getty Images)
Bush and Merritts, meanwhile, tied the knot in February of this year. When her office confirmed their marriage, they said they had been together before she took office in 2021 – more than a year before she added him to her campaign’s payroll in January 2022. Last year, he collected $50,000 from her committee while it simultaneously paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a private security firm.
And despite the security payments, 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.
Merritts also did not appear in a Washington, D.C. database of licensed security professionals. Bush’s campaign did not respond to several prior emails on the matter.
Throughout 2022, Bush’s now husband collected $50,000 from her campaign while it paid significant cash to a private security firm. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Bush’s security payments became a point of contention after Fox News Digital first reported on them in July 2021, prompting CBS News to question her about the cash and whether hiring security was hypocritical while she advocated defunding the police.
“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.
St. Louis’ KMOV4 later discovered that Bush had hired two sheriff’s deputies, Tylance Jackson and Maurice Thompson, as part of her security.
The discovery led to the termination of Jackson and Thompson, who had failed to get approval for the side gig, St. Louis Sheriff Vernon Betts said at the time.
Bush’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on her husband’s new payments.