The House Ethics Committee is demanding Rep. Rashida Tlaib pay back $10,800 to her campaign for taking a salary in violation of federal election laws, but finds no “ill intent.”
The committee released a report on their investigation into the Michigan Democrat Friday, saying they concluded the salary Ms. Tlaib from her campaign after the 2018 election were improper because she was legally no longer a candidate.
However, they noted that Ms. Tlaib took a lower salary during the campaign, which led them to believe the violation was not an attempt to “unjustly enrich herself.”
“Representative Tlaib’s violation of the applicable restrictions was one of bad timing and not ill intent,” the report read. “Representative Tlaib engaged in good faith efforts to comply with the relevant FECA requirements.”
First-time candidates are allowed to receive salary payments from their own campaigns, as long as it’s for the work they do up until the date of their election.
The report found that Ms. Tlaib began taking a $4,000-a-month salary in May 2018 from her campaign because she had to drastically cut down her hours at the Sugar Law Center, where her salary was $129,357, in order to run for office. The press began reporting on these payments in July 2018.
After the Nov. 6 election, the then-congresswoman-elect received $2,000 on Nov. 16 and $15,500 on Dec. 1.
Ms. Tlaib said the November payment was related to her work on election day — though records show the payment was for a Nov. 1-15 work period — and the December payment was “back pay.”
The ethics committee concluded that $1,200 of the November payment and $9,600 of the December payment were made in violation of federal regulations.
“There is some evidence in the record indicating that the senior campaign staff’s heightened awareness about the political risks associated with Representative Tlaib’s salary payments may have influenced the decision to defer additional compensation, and thereby, the disclosure of the additional compensation until after the general election,” the report noted. “Such political risks, however, are inherent in the process and categorizing salary as ‘back pay’ cannot be used as an end run around the transparency required by campaign finance laws and regulations.”
Ms. Tlaib has a year to pay back the money.
“Rep. Tlaib hopes the Federal Election Commission will issue updated guidance clarifying the regulations regarding candidate salaries to allow more working-class candidates to run for Congress,” the congresswoman said in a statement to Detroit News.
The report comes just two days after Ms. Tlaib won her primary challenge against Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones.
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