Cori Bush marries security guard on her campaign: report

Rep. Cori Bush, a member of the progressive House Democratic group known as “The Squad” — and a vocal supporter of the “Defund the police” movement — has married a member of her security detail who was paid by her campaign.

Bush (D-Mo.) got hitched to Cortney Merritts in a private ceremony in St. Louis earlier this month, news station KSDK first reported Sunday.

Bush chief of staff Abbas Alawiesh confirmed the nuptials in a statement Monday, saying, “With heartfelt congratulations, I am happy to confirm that Congresswoman Cori Bush married the love of her life, Cortney Merritts, this month​.”

Bush and Merritts filed for a marriage license on Feb. 11, according to records filed with the St. Louis Recorder of Deeds, and the couple tied the knot the following weekend, KSDK said. 

Bush, 46, first paid Merritt through her campaign for his security services in 2022, after the couple began their relationship, KSDK reported.

Merritts, an Army veteran, received $62,359 from Bush’s campaign that year, according to the outlet, which cited campaign finance records. The bulk of the payments were for security services, while $2,359 was for “cash reimbursements.” 

Rep. Cori Bush posted on Instagram that she attended the House Congressional Holiday Ball with “Mr. Good.”
Instagram / @coribush

Merritts accompanied Bush to her swearing-in as a new House member in January 2021, to New York City for an appearance on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in April 2022, and to Central America as part of a congressional delegation the previous month. ​

The payments to Merritts​ are likely to draw scrutiny from both the Congressional Ethics Office and the Federal Election Commission. ​

While federal regulations ban the use of campaign funds for personal use, some leeway is made for members of Congress to pay family members for performing a “bona fide service.”​​

Cortney Merritts posted his photo on Twitter while attending the House Congressional Holiday Ball.
Cortney Merritts posted his photo on Twitter while attending the House Congressional Holiday Ball.
Twitter / @CortneyMerritt4

“Campaign funds are not to be used to enhance a Member’s lifestyle, or to pay a Member’s personal obligations,” ​House ethics rules say. 

“Members have wide discretion in determining what constitutes a bona fide campaign or political purpose to which campaign funds and resources may be devoted, but Members have no discretion whatsoever to convert campaign funds to personal use​,” they add. 

Bush’s office on Monday stressed that Merritts was not employed by them.

​”​Mr. Merritts, a veteran of the US Army and a security professional, has been Congresswoman Bush’s partner since before her Congressional tenure and is not employed by her Congressional office. Our team has come to know and appreciate Mr. Merritts as a loving and caring Congressional spouse​,” Alawiesh said.

Cortney Merritts in an image posted on his Twitter account from August 2022.
Cortney Merritts in an image posted on his Twitter account from August 2022.
Twitter / @CortneyMerritt4

Bush reportedly spent nearly $500,000 in campaign funds for private security during the 2020-22 election cycle, according to reports from last fall. 

The KSDK report said that amount paid for security-related expenses has now grown to $627,088.

Bush, a member of “The Squad” along with far-left Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman of New York, ​Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, has cited death threats to justify paying for private security despite her anti-cop stance.

“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,” ​she told CBS News in August 2021.