Newly elected Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI 13th District) may have violated campaign finance laws based on her schedule of self-payments from her own campaign fund, according to FEC documents.
Between May 7th and the General Election on November 6th, Tlaib’s campaign had paid her $28,000, making the total salary contributions from Rashida Tlaib for Congress, her Congressional fund, to herself $45,500. In the 6-months she was an official candidate, Tlaib’s salary averaged $4,700 a month. All but one month consisted of two $2,000 regular payments. In August, she paid herself two $3,000 payments.
Though this may sound shady, it is both legal and widely used. FEC regulations state: “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.” Regarding backpay, “no salary payments may be paid beyond the date he or she is no longer a candidate.” This is especially common with candidates who are fighting for their first victory.
Running a campaign is a full-time job. It is acceptable for a candidate to self-subsidize themselves while running because other means of work are unavailable.
However, the $28,000 is not the disputed and potentially illegal amount. Excluding the month of August, Tlaib established her salary to be $1,000 per week, having received a $2,000 check every two weeks. These were regular payments. Even averaging, it is only approximately $1,200 per week in salary expenses. Tlaib may only pay herself for work up until she was no longer a candidate.
On November 16th, Tlaib received another $2,000 check, paid a week after she won her election and was subsequently no longer a candidate. Her last paycheck from the campaign was November 1st, meaning part of that salary expense was likely paying her, in part, for work done between Nov. 1st and Nov. 6th, election day. Even then, based on her previous salary record, she overpaid herself by over $1,000. Part of that salary reimbursement is legal, but it is very likely most of it violates FEC code. The salary grossly exceeds her prior pay amounts for the time she spent as a candidate.
There was a second post-election salary payment made to Tlaib. On December 1st, Tlaib received, in the regular interval she normally paid herself, $15,500. This is the final expense of the campaign. At this point, she was already paid up to and beyond the end of her Congressional campaign, putting these two payments in dispute with long-standing campaign finance laws.
Categories: U.S. News