Alleged lawmaker Rashida Tlaib illegally paid herself a salary from her campaign fund after she won her 2018 election. A unanimous House Ethics Committee ruled Friday that she violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. The Muslim Democrat from Michigan will be living on toast for the next year, because that’s exactly what she’ll be – if she doesn’t pay the money back within a year.
Pay it back within one year
She may have defeated her primary challenger, but Rashida Tlaib just got slapped down hard by the House Ethics Committee. They found unanimously that she violated “personal use restrictions.” It turns out that she collected $10,800 in salary from her campaign, “when she was no longer a congressional candidate in late 2018.” All will be well once again, the committee assures, as long as she repays “that amount back to her campaign within one year.”
The way they wrote it up in their report, the committee “determined that the evidence is sufficient to support a determination that a portion of the salary payments that Representative Tlaib received after the 2018 general election was inconsistent with the requirements outlined by [FECA] and its implementing regulations.” They admit it could have been worse. It looks like it was a mistake and they give her the benefit of the doubt.
“The Committee also recognizes, however, that Representative Tlaib’s violation of the applicable restrictions was one of bad timing and not ill intent.” They buy her story that “Representative Tlaib engaged in good faith efforts to comply with the relevant FECA requirements.” They couldn’t find any solid proof that she tried to “unjustly enrich herself by receiving the campaign funds at issue.”
Candidates allowed a salary
While they’re running down the campaign trail, any candidate for federal office is allowed to “pull a salary from their campaign as long as it is no more than the amount they made the prior year.” So says the Federal Election Commission. The rules make it clear that the pay period ends the day of the general election. Win or lose, after that the individual is no longer a “candidate.” Tlaib tried to use the Sharia interpretation of the law.
The campaign started shelling a regular $2,000 out to Tlaib, every two weeks, beginning in early May. The illegal activity happened “weeks after election victory.” Just in time for Christmas, she got a check for $15,500 from the campaign. According to a staffer, that figure represented “the inclusion of various “salary deferred” payments that Tlaib “was supposed to get that she didn’t get paid,” during her 2018 campaign.
When they put her under the hot lights, Tlaib testified to the Ethics Committee that “she had concerns about her campaign’s ability to pay her a salary after her primary victory,” but she ignored them. she justified it as “back pay.” The Committee glowered a little when they noted for the record that they “credit” Tlaib’s explanation but even so, she can’t keep the money. “She is not entitled to retain the full $15,500 payment.”