Did Rashida Tlaib violate campaign finance rules with $17,500 salary payments?
Controversial Michigan Democrat Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who has received criticism for using profanity, calling for Trump’s impeachment, and making a series of tweets about Israel that some have deemed anti-Semitic, is now being accused of a possible campaign finance violation that was first reported in the Washington Free Beacon.
The Federal Election Commission website shows that Tlaib paid herself $17,500 in salary from her midterm campaign funds several weeks AFTER the general election, one payment on Nov. 16 for $2,000 and another on Dec. 1 for a staggering $15,500.
Campaign finance laws allow candidates to draw a salary from their funds so long as they are candidates. The Federal Elections Commission’s “personal use of funds” rules are as clear as day:
“If the candidate wins the primary election, his or her principal campaign committee may pay him or her a salary from campaign funds through the date of the general election, up to and including the date of any general election runoff. If the candidate loses the primary, withdraws from the race, or otherwise ceases to be a candidate, no salary payments may be paid beyond the date he or she is no longer a candidate.”
Based on these rules, a candidate can only draw a salary from their official campaign for the duration of their candidacy. The FEC specifies that a candidate no longer qualifies for salary payments starting from the day after the general election.
“An FEC spokesperson said that a candidate can pay themselves after the general election only for activity that occurred up to the day of the election,” the Washington Free Beacon reported, but stated that Tlaib’s campaign did not answer requests to comment on Tlaib’s post-election payments.
Tlaib’s post-election payments were made in addition to the $2,000 biweekly salary payments she drew during her campaign. A government ethics lawyer commented on the payments to the Washington Free Beacon:
“The $15,500 payment is interesting. It’s not 100% clear what she’s doing, but what she may have done is to low ball her earlier payments for political purposes (at $2k), knowing full well that she would make up any difference at the end by giving herself a lump sum payment,” the lawyer said. “That would let her skirt negative publicity, of the sort that Alan Keyes generated when he paid himself a sizable salary. 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.”
An investigation into whether or not Tlaib’s post-election payments were legitimate has not been reported.