The Office of Congressional Ethics recommended subpoenaing Rep. Rashida Tlaib and several of her campaign staffers as part of an investigation into whether the Michigan Democrat improperly diverted campaign funds for personal use.
All five members of the board of OCE voted to recommend that the House Ethics Committee continue an investigation into Tlaib over $17,500 in payments she received from the campaign after her election win on Nov. 6, 2018.
House rules allow candidates to receive salaries during their campaigns that are not greater than what they earned in the year before starting their campaign. Candidates are also allowed to receive funds only up until the general election.
OCE released emails, campaign spreadsheets, and paycheck stubs that show Tlaib was paid after Election Day.
Tlaib received $45,500.00 between May 7, 2018 and December 1, 2018. The two potentially problematic payments were made on Nov. 16, 2018, for $2,000, and $15,500 on Dec. 1, 2018.
“If Rep. Tlaib converted campaign funds from Rashida Tlaib for Congress to personal use, or if Rep. Tlaib’s campaign committee expended funds that were not attributable to bona fide campaign or political purposes, then Rep. Tlaib may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law,” OCE said.
The report says that Tlaib, campaign treasurer Soh Suzuki, campaign manager Andy Goddeeris and campaign staffer Amanda Kaye refused to provide documents to the committee for the investigation.
“Because Rep. Tlaib refused to interview with the OCE, the OCE could not address these potentially problematic payments with her. Likewise, the OCE was unable to address these documents with members of her campaign staff given their refusals to interview with the OCE,” the report said.
Tlaib has denied wrongdoing.
In a statement to The Detroit News, the progressive Democrat said that 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.”
OCE released emails showing that Tlaib requested a larger salary from the campaign in order to support her two children. The emails also show that Tlaib and her campaign staff weighed whether she should resume working part-time at her law firm, Sugar Law Firm, or increase her stipend from the campaign.
Tlaib told her staff on May 7, 2018 that she would need to resume working part-time to make ends meet.
Goddeeris, the campaign manager, responded that Tlaib could legally receive $7,900 based on her previous year’s income.
“The downside is that in mid-July, it will become public that Rashida has collected X number of dollars from the campaign, and there might be attacks that follow that accuse Rashida of using her campaign funds to enrich herself,” Goddeeris wrote.
“With all the financial bullshit the other campaigns are pulling, though, I think you would be pretty insulated from attack,” he also wrote.
Tlaib eventually settled on taking $2,000 every two weeks, until the large payment on Dec. 1, 2018.
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