FIRST ON FOX: Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., has continued shoveling campaign cash to her husband, Cortney Merritts, but altered the description of the payments amid scrutiny. She has sent over $100,000 to him since she added him to the campaign’s payroll nearly two years ago.
According to new filings reviewed by Fox News Digital, Bush’s committee paid Merritts $12,500 for “wage expenses” between July and August. Merritts previously gathered money for security services, but the committee switched their characterization in April as they continued to bring headaches for the campaign.
The new cash follows the $30,000 Bush’s campaign paid him before the third quarter. So far this year, Merritts has received $42,500 from the committee. He’s collected $102,500 since he first emerged on its payroll in January 2022.
The “Squad” member has said she requires protection due to previous attempts on her life and has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to security firms on top of the earlier payments to her husband.
According to her filings, her campaign began paying a new security firm in the third quarter. The committee sent $5,000 to a St. Louis-based company called All American Protective Consultants, which was established in March, business records show. The firm is registered under a company called 720 Firm, which launched late last year.
Bush’s campaign did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on its payments to her husband and why they had switched their description from security to wage expenses. They also did not respond to a question regarding All American Protective Consultants.
After Bush and Merritts married in February, her office announced they had been together more than a year before her campaign began paying him in early 2022. Her campaign regularly sent Merritts bimonthly $2,500 checks while disbursing hundreds of thousands to other protection firms, primarily PEACE Security.
Merritts, meanwhile, did not have a private security license as of late February, Fox News Digital reported. He 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.
The campaign also paid Nathaniel Davis, who has claimed he’s 109 trillion years old and can summon tornadoes, tens of thousands of dollars for security services.
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, prompting 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.
Local St. Louis’ KMOV4 later found that Bush had hired two sheriff’s deputies as part of her security detail. The discovery of their unapproved side gig led to their termination.