A Michigan congresswoman, who used her reelection campaign money to promote t-shirts that support impeaching the president, faced an expanded investigation of her own on Nov. 14.
The House Committee on Ethics confirmed it would extend its review of allegations Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) could have violated campaign finance rules when requesting congressional campaign funds to help relieve her own financial hardship.
“The chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Ethics jointly decided on Sept. 30, 2019, to extend the committee’s review of the matter,” committee Chairman Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) said in a statement. “In order to gather additional information necessary to complete its review, the Committee will review the matter pursuant to Committee Rule 18(a).”
The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) released several messages that it’s feared will show the freshman congresswoman asking for congressional campaign money to help cover her personal financial obligations, which “may not be legitimate and verifiable campaign expenditures attributable to bona fide campaign or political purposes.”
“If Rep. Tlaib converted campaign funds from Rashida Tlaib for Congress to personal use, or if Rep. Tlaib’s campaign committee expended funds that were not attributable to bona fide campaign or political purposes, then Rep. Tlaib may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law,” OCE said in its report.
The committee’s board said there was “substantial reason” to believe Tlaib either converted campaign funds from “Rashida Tlaib for Congress” to personal use. Or perhaps her campaign committee expended funds that were neither for campaign nor political purposes.
Federal Election Commission filings show Tlaib paid herself $17,500 from her campaign bank account after being elected in 2018. Lawmakers are prohibited from compensating themselves using campaign funds once they are elected according to Breitbart.
Some of the evidence being examined includes a text message Tlaib allegedly sent about her financial challenges to current Chief of Staff Ryan Anderson in August 2018.
“Sorry for the early text but do you think the campaign can still pay me a stipend until the general? Trying to get out of debt,” she said according to the evidence on exhibit.
Anderson appeared to be most willing to assist.
“I think we definitely [can] afford to do so but we need to really clearly define your time and space,” Anderson said. “If you are also going to work at Sugar, the combo might draw the most concern.”
Tlaib also allegedly emailed to several recipients that she was “not going to make it through the campaign without a stipend.”
“With the loss of a second income to lean back on, I am requesting $2,000 per two weeks but not exceeding $12,000,” the congresswoman said in the email. “The cost of living stipend is going towards much-needed expenses due to campaigning that includes car maintenance, childcare, and other necessities. Please let me know if I can proceed.”
Deutch would not comment further on the matter since the review is continuing.
“The committee notes that the mere fact of conducting further review of a referral, and any mandatory disclosure of such further review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the committee,” he said in the statement.
It is unclear whether Tlaib will try to sell a t-shirt with a slogan on it that supports her own probe.