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Tipsheet

'Defund the Police' Squad Member Marries Private Security Guard

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File

Democrat Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri quietly married her private security guard in St. Louis earlier this month, according to marriage records.

Local news outlet KSDK reports Bush and Cortney Merritts signed a marriage license on Feb. 11, a few days before the ceremony.

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Bush's spending on private security in light of her relationship with Merritts may raise more than just criticism among conservative critics, however. It could “draw the scrutinizing eye of the FEC and the Congressional Ethics Office," KSDK reports.

Merritts, a veteran of the U.S. Army, has worked for Bush's campaign as a hired security guard. Campaign finance records show the Bush campaign has paid him $62,359 in direct payments in 2022. Most of the payments were listed for security services, while $2,359 of them were for cash reimbursements.

Merritts' social media posts show he traveled with Bush on her trips to her first inauguration in January 2021, to the Ed Sullivan Theater for her appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," and to Central America on a trip with a Congressional delegation

The first direct campaign payments to Merritts were reported in 2022 after their relationship began.

Bush began spending significant money on hiring security guards in August 2020. Between then and now, her campaign spending records show $627,088 in security-related expenses. (KSDK)

Bush is just one of the progressive Squad members who, despite publicly supporting calls to defund the police, was spending significant sums of money on private security.

Bush's chief of staff, Abbas Alawieh, released a statement on Twitter about the lawmaker's marriage. 

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“With heartfelt congratulations, I am happy to confirm that Congresswoman Cori Bush married the love of her life, Cortney Merritts, this month," he wrote. "Mr. Merritts, a veteran of the U.S. 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.

“Those who know the Congresswoman personally and have followed her inspiring story know that she is a survivor of multiple forms of violence, including intimate partner violence," the statement continued. "That she has married someone who supports her in all that she does, including as Representative of the incredible people of St. Louis, is cause for great celebration. Our team hopes that everyone will join us in celebrating the Congresswoman during this joyous time while respecting her privacy as she and her husband begin this new chapter together.” 

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