House Ethics panel reviewing Tlaib over campaign salary

House Ethics panel reviewing Tlaib over campaign salary
© Aaron Schwartz

The House Ethics Committee on Monday announced it is extending a review of Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibHarris, Ocasio-Cortez among Democrats calling for recurring direct payments in fourth coronavirus bill Ilhan Omar edits headline of New York Post article slamming the Squad: 'There, fixed it for you' Trump urges Sanders supporters to join GOP after senator suspends campaign MORE (D-Mich.) over accepting a salary from her 2018 campaign before taking office.

The announcement was the first time the committee has publicly acknowledged that the progressive freshman lawmaker is under scrutiny.

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House Ethics Committee Chairman Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchOcasio-Cortez knocks Pence: 'Utterly irresponsible to put him in charge of US coronavirus response' Father of Parkland shooting victim calls on Congress to take action Florida 'red flag' law has removed hundreds of guns: report MORE (D-Fla.) and the panel's ranking Republican, Rep. Kenny MarchantKenny Ewell MarchantLatina underdog for Texas House seat picks up steam Texas kicks off critical battle for House control Gun control group plans to spend million in Texas in 2020 MORE (Texas), said in a joint statement that the probe "does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the committee."

The committee will announce its next course of action, such as potentially opening a formal investigation, by Nov. 14.

A spokesman for Tlaib said that the review involves allegations about her 2018 campaign salary but denied any wrongdoing.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) allows nonincumbent candidates to pay themselves a salary from their campaign committees if they meet certain criteria. The campaign salary is designed to help first-time candidates who aren't independently wealthy.

“As the Ethics Committee made clear, the fact that it received a referral does not mean any violation occurred,” Tlaib spokesman Denzel McCampbell said in a statement to The Hill. “Representative Tlaib has cooperated completely with the Committee to resolve the referral, which involves the same claims over her publicly disclosed salary during the campaign that conservative groups pressed back in March. Representative Tlaib fully complied with the law and acted in good faith at all times.”

Conservative outlets in March highlighted FEC records showing that Tlaib's campaign paid out $17,500 in salary disbursements after the Nov. 6, 2018, general election. One payment of $2,000 was dated Nov. 16, while another of $15,500 was dated Dec. 1.

The FEC rules for allowing a candidate to receive a campaign salary state that the payments can be made until the date of the general election or until the candidate is no longer running.

The rules also state that the salary cannot exceed the minimum annual salary for the federal office sought by the candidate or what the candidate received as income in the previous year.

An FEC spokesperson did tell The Washington Free Beacon in March that a candidate can pay themselves after the general election date for an activity that happened up to that date.

Tlaib is not the only freshman lawmaker to have taken a campaign salary.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez calls for extending census period Harris, Ocasio-Cortez among Democrats calling for recurring direct payments in fourth coronavirus bill 'Drag Race' teases first look at guest judge Ocasio-Cortez MORE (D-N.Y.), a close Tlaib ally who had been working as a bartender before running for Congress, also collected a salary from her campaign before taking office.

Rank-and-file members of Congress currently earn a salary of $174,000 annually.