Did Rashida Tlaib convert campaign funds for personal use?
Rashida (MOFO) Tlaib, former Michigan Sate Representative from the 13th district and now congress critter sensua de-luxe was on the payroll of her own campaign. As if she was a staffer, the guttural grandstander received wages to be a candidate.
And it was completely legit. To a point. As explained in a fairly recent ethics probe candidates need to eat too:
The Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) explained that “payment of a salary to a candidate is not a prohibited personal use as defined under Commission regulations since, but for the candidacy, the candidate would be paid a salary in exchange for services rendered to an employer.” See Using Contributions to Pay Salaries to Candidates, 67 Fed. Reg. 76961, 76971-73 (Dec. 13, 2002). In reaching this conclusion, the FEC explained: “[B]ecause many candidates must forego salary in order to conduct the business of the campaign, a candidate who is dependent on an income is put at a severe disadvantage compared to an incumbent who is free to campaign at all times without any reduction in compensation or to an affluent challenger, who can afford to campaign without receiving any compensation.” Id. at 76971. Put differently, “candidates without significant resources might not be able to forgo salary payments in order to run for Federal office.”
Thus a social worker who couldn’t work her regular job was introduced to an overflowing campaign kitty.
Unfortunately, it must not have been enough.
Once the candidate is not longer a candidate, he/she must stop receiving payments. Rashida Tlaib however, kept going to the trough, and even gave herself a bonus and pay adjustment. Beyond the campaign, she paid herself over $17 thousand.
Rep. Tlaib provided the OCE with a spreadsheet identifying salary payments made to various campaign staff members and herself (“Campaign Salary Spreadsheet”).35 The Campaign Salary Spreadsheet – included below in relevant part – suggests Rep. Tlaib received two salary payments that were likely for work performed after November 6, 2018.36 The spreadsheet indicates that Rep. Tlaib was paid $2,000.00 on November 16, 2018 for work performed between November 1, 2018 and November 15, 2018, and was thereafter paid $15,500.00 on December 1, 2018 for work performed (or to be performed) between November 16, 2018 and December 31, 2018:
Perhaps the treasurer thought the previous pay could be ‘adjusted’ to reflect amounts close to the limits allowed under the [67 Fed. Reg. 76961, 76971-73] rules? In any event, The OCE report also points out that the employee Tlaib, as well as those who bean count for her campaign refused to communicate with the OCE.
The OCE requested an opportunity to interview Rep. Tlaib in order to address her potentially problematic salary payments. Rep. Tlaib declined to interview with the OCE. Likewise, campaign staff members with knowledge of her receipt of salary payments also declined to interview with the OCE.
Because of this, the OCE has assumed that payments made to Tlaib were outside that which is an allowable expenditure to Tlaib, and that this is a conversion of campaign funds for personal use.
The OCE has recommended issuing Subpoenas for those involved. These would include for HER and her staff ostensibly to determine whether the monies received by Tlaib AFTER the election Nov 6 2018 were in fact legitimate payments, or whether it was conversion which is illegal.