‘Squad’ Democrats continue raising ethics red flags among watchdog groups

Watchdog groups continue to raise ethical concerns and red flags about Democratic members of Congress’ “Squad,” which has often asked government agencies to investigate any alleged misconduct.

Watchdogs are furious at the latest situation, which is Rep. Cori (D-MO), newly announced marriage to Cortney Merritts as a security guard for her campaign. Despite her husband being a St. Louis private safety license holder, it’s not clear if this was a new development. Bush’s quiet inking of the marriage in January is one of several ethical issues facing Squad members. Others include Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and five other Democrats.

According to Peter Flaherty (CEO of the National Legal and Policy Center), a conservative watchdog, “The Squad members are left-wing celebrities and it’s given them some protection.” “There is a double standard.”

Flaherty said that the media is gentle with them. The Justice Department is an example of this. Even though it is headed by Republicans, they don’t want to pursue Squad members because they fear the reaction.

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Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO)

According to Kendra Arnold (executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust), Bush’s relationship and Merritts has earned him over $62,000 since her campaign began in January 2022. This could be a problem if he is not being paid fair-market value. According to the Federal Election Commission, payments that exceed the fair-market value must be labelled as “personal use”.

Watchdogs are also concerned about Bush’s marriage and the gifts she has received from constituents. According to Harper’s Bazaar reports, the congresswoman was regularly given “dresses and jewelry” as well as shoes, according to a September 2021 Harper’s Bazaar report.

According to the House Ethics Committee (which notes that gifts exceeding $100 from one donor are strictly forbidden), members of Congress can only accept gifts valued at $50 or less.

Julia Albertson, a spokesperson for Bush, stated that the congresswoman was extremely grateful for the support she received from her St. Louis community in September 2021. “Our office works closely with the House Committee on Ethics on gift-related issues.” She has never accepted or solicited gifts that are not in strict compliance with House ethics guidelines.

Arnold said that it was fair for the public, considering Bush’s items “commonly cost more then the gift threshold,” to raise concerns about Bush’s purchases.

She stated that “we know these gifts are occurring, and those lend themselves to greater scrutiny.” “The public demands that we enforce the fundamental and basic ethics rules that members cannot accept gifts [above the threshold].” If gifts are admitted, transparency is required and additional explanations needed.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)

According to a December 2022 government press release, Ocasio Cortez is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

Although it is not clear what the committee is investigating, the congresswoman was subject to multiple ethics complaints in 2021 following her appearance at the Met Gala. The National Legal and Policy Center and Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust filed complaints to the Office of Congressional Ethics. This refers to alleged misconduct to House Ethics Committee.

The groups suggested that Congresswoman might have broken House rules by receiving free tickets to the gala for her and Riley Roberts and borrowing jewelry, shoes and a gown she called “tax the rich”.

“The House should seriously consider sanctioning her. But the first thing she should be doing is to repay the gift… because so brazenly violating housekeeping rules,” Tom Jones (president of the American Accountability Foundation) told the Washington Examiner in December.

He explained that this is essentially a private dinner where you can sit down with AOC and talk to her about your personal issues without anyone else. You’re not supposed be able to do this. That’s problematic.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN)

Omar has been criticized for spending $3 million to E Street Group, a consulting firm owned by Tim Mynett. Mynett received half of Omar’s total spending during the 2020 election cycle.

However, after Republicans scrutinized her, Omar’s payments to the company decreased by approximately $2 million during the 2022 elections cycle. Observers are still concerned about Omar’s relationship with Mynett and other individuals.

Judicial Watch alleged that Omar might have broken federal law by allegedly marrying her younger brother in June 2019. Documents that show Ahmed Nur Said Elmi is Omar’s brother have yet to surface. The National Legal and Policy Center also alleged that Omar could have violated House rules. It did so by noting in FEC filings, that Mynett’s company received reimbursements and not him directly.

The NLPC also claimed in 2021 to OCE that Omar failed disclose a lucrative book contract she inked in January 2019 in her annual financial disclosure reports for 2019 and 2020. The Daily Caller reported the discrepancy first in August 2021.

Paul Kamenar, counsel for the NLPC, stated that even if Rep. Omar’s book agreement was approved by her spokesman, at a minimum she had to report it as an asset on her disclosure form and the receipt or royalties.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)

Tlaib’s ethical issue dates back to 2020, when Tlaib was ordered by the House Ethics Committee to pay a $10 800 fine for illegally spending campaign money for personal use.

In a 30-page report, the committee stated that the violation was due to “bad timing and not ill intention.” This refers to the $17,500 salary reimbursement the congresswoman received with campaign funds during 2018 elections. The Washington Free Beacon reported it first.