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The House Ethics Committee is reviewing payments Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) made to herself following her 2018 election win, the freshman congresswoman’s office confirmed Monday.
While candidates are permitted to draw a salary from their campaign coffers from the time they win their primary until election day, Tlaib paid herself tens of thousands of dollars in two payments following the election on November 6.
“The Federal Election Commission states that salary payments may continue ‘until the date of the general election,’” Politico noted in a Monday report on the the probe.
According to reporting from the Washington Free Beacon in March, the elected Democrat made a $2,000 payment to herself on November 16 and shelled out another $15,500 to herself on December 1.
Tlaib’s office confirmed the probe but denied any wrongdoing, claiming the Michigan representative “fully complied with the law and acted in good faith at all times,” according to Politico.
“Representative Tlaib has cooperated completely with the Committee to resolve the referral, which involves the same claims over her publicly disclosed salary during the campaign that conservative groups pressed back in March,” Tlaib spokesperson Denzel McCampbell told the outlet in a statement.
“On its face, it looks like the $2,000 payment on November 16 might be for the candidate’s salary for the first two weeks of November,” an election law and government ethics lawyer told the Washington Free Beacon in March about Tlaib’s first post-election payment. However, the lawyer noted that “Tlaib stopped being a candidate halfway through this period, but it appears that she kept collecting her full salary as if she was still a candidate throughout the full first two weeks of November.”
Tlaib’s second payment of $15,500 to herself is something different, the ethics lawyer speculated, since it’s far more than what Tlaib generally paid herself per month during the election, which was about $4,000.
“The $15,500 payment is interesting. It’s not 100% clear what she’s doing, but what she may have done is to low ball her earlier payments for political purposes (at $2k), knowing full well that she would make up any difference at the end by giving herself a lump sum payment,” the lawyer said. “That would let her skirt negative publicity, of the sort that Alan Keyes generated when he paid himself a sizable salary. An after-the-fact, lump sum payment cuts against the purpose of the rule, which is to help the candidate pay for daily living expenses while campaigning.”
According to an FEC spokesperson, “a candidate can pay themselves after the general election only for activity that occurred up to the day of the election,” the report said.
The ethics panel “recommended further scrutiny” into the possible misuse of funds, reported Politico, adding that the House Ethics Committee “now faces a 45-day deadline to announce whether to go ahead with a full investigation, or once again extend the review period and release the OCE report.”
Tlaib has been one of the most vocal anti-Trump leaders in the House, vowing on the day she was elected to “impeach the motherf***er.”