Dem Rep Tlaib broke the FECA Act. No Punishment?

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The House Ethics Committee unanimously ruled on Friday that Rashida Tlaib, the Democratic Representative for Michigan, violated the Federal Election Campaign Act by paying herself a salary from her campaign funds.

The committee determined that Tlaib violated the personal use restriction included in the FECA by giving herself a $10,800 salary out of her campaign funds after she was no longer a congressional candidate. The committee has ordered her to repay the funds.

Post-election back pay broke FECA rules

The committee’s report says, “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.”

It goes on to say, “The Committee also recognizes, however, that Representative Tlaib’s violation of the applicable restrictions was one of bad timing and not ill intent. Representative Tlaib engaged in good faith efforts to comply with the relevant FECA requirements.”

The committee found no evidence that Tlaib intended to “unjustly enrich herself by receiving the campaign funds at issue.”

Three days before the ethics committee’s ruling, Tlaib beat a Democratic challenger in Michigan’s primary.

Candidates may give themselves a salary from their campaign if the amount is less than they made in the previous year. The salary must stop being paid on the date of the election in question. In Tlaib’s case, that was the 2018 general election.

Tlaib asked for the salary when campaigning cut into her ability to make enough on her own to cover her bills. Her campaign officials calculated that she could receive $7,900 a month based on her 2017 income. In the end, Tlaib only took $4,000 in a now-failed attempt to appear fiscally conservative.

FEC records show that Tlaib received a $15,500 payment from her campaign shortly after the 2018 election, violating the FECA act. An anonymous campaign staffer told the ethics committee that this sum represented the difference between the $7,900 she could have taken all along and the $4,000 she actually took.

Tlaib argued she was entitled to the money, but back pay scheme was illegal

Tlaib testified before the Ethics committee that she didn’t think her campaign had enough money to pay her the full $7,900 during the campaign. She felt entitled to it so she entered into an informal agreement with her own campaign officials to receive the ‘back pay’ later. That wasn’t enough for the ethics committee, which decided that “she is not entitled to retain the full $15,500 payment.”