The non-partisan Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) recommended Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and several of her campaign staffers be subpoenaed over “problematic” campaign payments.
The Daily Caller reports that all five OCE board members voted to recommend that the House Ethics Committee continue its investigation into Tlaib over payments she received from her campaign after she was elected to Congress.
House rules allow candidates to receive salaries only up until the general election.
According to emails, paycheck stubs and campaign spreadsheets, Tlaib was paid after November 6, 2018–election day.
The Congresswoman received $45,000 between May 7, 2017 and Dec. 1 2018.
“The two potentially problematic payments were made Nov. 16, 2018, for $2,000, and $15,500 on Dec. 1, 2018,” writes the Daily Caller.
As Fox News reports, texts and emails released by OCE reveal Tlaib frantically sought campaign funds for personal purposes.
In an April 2018 email, Tlaib wrote she was “struggling financially” and “sinking” and wrote, “So I was thinking the campaign could loan me money, but Ryan said that the committee could actually pay me. I was thinking a one time payment of $5k.”
In another April email, Tlaib wrote: “I am just not going to make it through the campaign without a stipend.”
She wrote, “With the loss of a second income to lean back on I am requesting $2,000 per two weeks but not exceeding $12,000. The cost of living stipend is going towards much needed expenses due to campaigning that includes car maintenance, child care and other necessities. Please let me know if I can proceed.”
In August 2018, Tlaib texted her staffer and wrote “Sorry for the early text but do you think the campaign can still pay me a stipend until the general. Trying to get out of debt.”
A press release from OCE claims that Tlaib’s campaign “reported campaign disbursements that may not be legitimate and verifiable campaign expenditures attributable to bona fide campaign or political purposes.”
Tlaib insists she did not do anything improper and in a statement to the Detroit News said she, “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.”
She continued, “I look forward to the Ethics Committee’s prompt resolution of this matter in my favor, and I hope my experience will clear more room for people like me to run for office by availing themselves of FEC innovations that level the playing field, like paying a non-incumbent candidate salary or covering childcare expenses with campaign funds, so that financial privilege is not a prerequisite to participate in our democracy.”