Controversial Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) may have taken a $17,500 payday from her own Congressional campaign, in violation of strict Federal Election Commission guidelines, and it could land the Michigan Congresswoman in hot water.
A report from The Washington Free Beacon, based on FEC filings from Tlaib’s campaign, shows that Tlaib took more than $17,000 in two separate disbursements from her campaign, both marked “salary,” well after her campaign had concluded.
The FEC only allows candidates to draw a salary from their campaigns during the campaign itself. Winning candidates must rely either on personal savings or other means to stay afloat for the two short months between the conclusion of their campaign and their first Congressional paycheck.
Tlaib’s colleague, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), illustrated the “pay gap” back in November when she complained that she would have to either take out loans or max out credit cards in order to be able to afford to move to Washington, D.C. in anticipation of her term in Congress. Thankfully, Ocasio-Cortez recovered quickly, and now reportedly rents an apartment in one of the city’s most exclusive buildings, thanks to her $174,000 Congressional salary.
“I have three months without a salary before I’m a member of Congress. So, how do I get an apartment? Those little things are very real,” Ocasio-Cortez told media just days after she won her race.
“Salary payments may continue until the date when the candidate is no longer considered a candidate for office or until the date of the general election or general election runoff,” the FEC says, according to the Examiner. In Tlaib’s case, she drew $2,000 on November 16, shortly after winning her seat, and then $15,500 in December, nearly a month after Election Day.
Tlaib also paid herself well while she campaigned, earning around $45,000 for a few months’ work — but that part isn’t illegal (though it could be concerning to some of her campaign donors). Once her campaign ended, she kept paying herself, something the FEC definitely frowns upon.
The Washington Free Beacon reports that there may, in fact, be concerns over Tlaib’s campaign salary that motivated the $15,500 payment after the campaign had concluded. According to an FEC spokesperson who spoke with the WFB, because candidates can take post-campaign payments for things done during the campaign, some candidates choose to artificially lower their in-campaign salary and take a “lump sum” payment at the end of the cycle. That way, they keep their visible campaign salaries low, but don’t suffer for taking months off work.
In Tlaib’s case, she could justify the $15,500 disbursement by saying she intended to take that during the campaign, but put the payment off, to show faux “fiscal responsibility.”
Tlaib is, of course, no stranger to controversy. In her first few months in office, she’s courted disaster several times, even, at one point, using an anti-Semitic trope — accusing her Congressional colleagues of exhibiting “dual loyalties” to both the United States and Israel — to attack them over their lack of support for the anti-Semitic “boycott, divest, sanction” movement.