Rashida Tlaib — an outspoken Democrat who made headlines for making expletive-filled calls to impeach President Donald Trump — may have landed herself in hot water after taking a salary from her campaign funds. This action may have broken rules set down by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Per Fox News, the representative from Michigan purportedly paid herself a salary of $17,500 after the conclusion of her successful campaign, a move that is illegal under FEC campaign finance rules. While Rashida Tlaib drew an authorized salary of $4,000 a month from the commencement of her campaign — in May of 2018 — until Election Day, she allegedly had her campaign fund disburse further personal payments to her as salary following her election.
The Washington Free Beacon digs a little deeper into this news, engaging with an election law and government ethics lawyer to provide a potential explanation for this disbursal. Suggesting that the first payment made to Tlaib after the election — one amounting to $2,000 — may have been an attempt to square away her last partial paycheque, the unnamed legal expert expressed surprise that this amount was not prorated against a shortened work period.
“But given that the election occurred on November 6 — i.e., part-way through the first November pay period — I am surprised that this last payment wasn’t prorated. In other words, 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.”
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) March 3, 2019
The much larger second payment, one to the tune of $15,500, is even more contentious. The legal expert interviewed by The Washington Free Beacon suggested that Tlaib had intentionally lowered previous salary payments in order to defuse potential public criticism overdrawing a large income directly from her campaign. She could then, as the lawyer suggests, give herself a “lump sum payment” for the difference. Though this may skirt the intention of the rules, it is not immediately clear whether her reported payments are illegal.
“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.”
“Hello everyone, my name is Rashida Tlaib and I may have committed FEC violation with campaign funds.” https://t.co/krsS35ePNC
— Imam Mohamad Tawhidi (@Imamofpeace) March 3, 2019
Rashida Tlaib has found a firm ally in fellow Democratic Party firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a House representative from New York. In a November Instagram post made by Ocasio-Cortez, per HuffPost, Tlaib can be seen beaming as she sits in a group of newly-elected women. Ocasio-Cortez captioned the snapshot as “squad,” and tagged the members present in the picture — Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and herself.
Tlaib would refer to the four as a “Dream Team” in a different Instagram post made to her own account, and the women are frequently grouped together — both by the media and by their own accounts, per Bloomberg.
— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) March 2, 2019
Cortez most recently came to Tlaib’s defense after the latter accused Republican Representative Mark Meadows of perpetuating a racist act, per Fox News. During a heated exchange during the public testimony of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, Tlaib accused Meadows of using a Trump family friend — Lynne Patton — as a “prop” in a “racist act.”
Meadows retorted in an emotional manner, but the two would later hug in an apparent rapprochement. However, Tlaib would later reiterate her attack on Meadows while appearing on CNN, again calling his endorsement of Patton’s testimony a “racist act.”