Apr 21, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Legal fees pile up for embattled Squad member Cori Bush

Representative Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan, center, and Representative Cori Bush, a Democrat from Missouri, center right, hold up signs calling for a ceasefire during a State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, March 7, 2024.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), center, and Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), center right, hold ceasefire signs during President Biden's State of the Union address on March 7. Photo: Julia Nikhinson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo). spent close to $100,000 on legal fees in the first quarter of the year as she faced investigations about her use of campaign money.

Why it matters: Bush, one of the most outspoken critics of Israel in Congress, is increasingly in danger of losing her seat as her Democratic primary opponent has significantly more than double her cash on hand going into the final months of the race.

Driving the news: Bush announced in January that the Justice Department was investigating whether she misused campaign dollars in hiring her husband as part of her security team.

  • From January through March, Bush paid law firms approximately $86,000, according to recently released campaign finance records.
  • In the final months before the August primary election, Bush's campaign has $528,000 with $91,000 in debt while her primary opponent, Wesley Bell, has more than $1.1 million cash on hand and zero debt.

Bush has denied wrongdoing, and said she is cooperating with the investigation.

  • The Federal Election Commission and the House Ethics Committee also have been reviewing her campaign payments.

Between the lines: Bush easily fended off a primary challenge in 2022 but is in more trouble this year because of her support of Palestinians and critiques of Israel and its government since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas.

  • In response to those attacks, Bush called for "ending U.S. government support for Israeli military occupation and apartheid."
  • Weeks later, Bell, a progressive prosecutor in St. Louis, abruptly withdrew from the Missouri Senate race and challenged Bush instead.

Zoom out: Bell has since been endorsed by the influential lobby AIPAC and DMFI PAC, the political arm for the Democratic Majority for Israel.

  • DMFI PAC spent just under $9 million in 2022 and now has about $3 million cash on hand for the upcoming cycle.
  • DMFI PAC is also targeting fellow member of the progressive "Squad" Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY)

Bush's campaign declined to comment.

Editor's note: The photo caption has been corrected to reflect Rep. Rashida Tlaib is from Michigan, not Washington.

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