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Justice Department investigating Democratic Rep. Cori Bush over alleged misuse of campaign funds

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is investigating whether Democratic Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri misused campaign funds for her personal security, the progressive lawmaker confirmed in a statement Tuesday.

Bush, a second-term lawmaker, denied any wrongdoing and said she is “fully cooperating” with federal prosecutors.

“As a rank-and-file member of Congress I am not entitled to personal protection by the House, and instead have used campaign funds as permissible to retain security services,” Bush said. “I have not used any federal tax dollars for personal security services.”

Her statement came a day after the Justice Department subpoenaed the office of the House Sergeant at Arms for related documents. The Justice Department declined to comment.

Since being elected to the House in 2021, Bush, a Black woman with activist roots, has been the target of right-wing attacks. As a result, she has spent a substantial amount of money on private security while she's on Capitol Hill and back home in her district in St. Louis.

Federal prosecutors have been asking questions about Bush’s security expenses, the threats she received and her decision to pay her now-husband Cortney Merritts with campaign funds to provide security, a person familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press. The questions have been similar to those asked by congressional investigators conducting an ethics inquiry, the person said. The person was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The issue of how Bush has been funding her security is currently under investigation by the Federal Election Commission and the House Committee on Ethics. The FEC has stated that it is not technically against the rules for a member of Congress to use campaign funds for private security as there has been a striking increase of violent threats against lawmakers in recent years. The Office of Congressional Ethics unanimously determined in October to clear Bush of any wrongdoing in their investigation.

“I look forward to this same outcome from all pending investigations,” Bush said Tuesday.

“I’m going to make sure I have security because I know I have had attempts on my life and I have too much work to do,” the former Black Lives Matter activist told CBS News in August 2021. “So, if I end up spending $200,000, if I spend … 10 more dollars on it, you know what? I get to be here to do the work.

A spokesperson for Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries said that Bush is entitled to the presumption of innocence as the investigation moves forward.

“It is our expectation that the investigation will follow the facts, apply the law and be conducted in a professional manner,” Christie Stephenson said.

Punchbowl News first reported the news about the investigation into Bush.

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Associated Press reporters Mike Balsamo and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.