Last Updated on June 26, 2022
U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) has paid roughly $56,000 from his principal campaign committee to his wife and son since 2019, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) documents reviewed by The Daily Caller. Rush — a former Black Panther leader who has served 15 terms in Congress — is retiring in January.
Rush paid his third wife, Paulette Holloway Rush, around $11,000 between June 2021 and March 2022, filings show. The longtime Congressman made one notable payment of $3,600 to Paulette, who is a church minister, on June 17, 2021.
Rush has also paid his son Jeffrey roughly $45,000 since 2019, filings show, for mostly “field services” and “field operations services.” This would typically include activities such as door knocking, phone banking and event work.
These tasks are performed by volunteers on most campaigns.
Rush’s son Jeffrey was sentenced in 2008 to six months in jail for having sex with female prison inmates while working as head of security at an Illinois correctional facility. In 2011, Jeffrey was arrested on a warrant for violating his probation in connection with his prior sexual conviction, Herald & Review reported.
The payments were made from the Citizens for Rush committee, which has a Chicago mailing address and has raised over $220,000 in the latest election cycle, the Daily Caller reported.
While it is not illegal to pay campaign funds to family members so long as the individual is being paid fair market value, the practice is “frowned upon” by ethics experts. Kendra Arnold, who serves as executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, told the Daily Caller that it is ““really difficult to determine” what fair market value is.
“When a candidate contracts with an independent person they’re not related to, obviously they’re going to negotiate for the best price and the fair market price,” said Arnold, whose nonprofit aims to promote accountability and transparency in government. “But when they negotiate with a family member, it’s a lot harder to determine whether or not they did that.”
A spokesperson for the FEC told the Daily Caller that members of Congress can use funds to pay relatives “only if the family member is providing a bona fide service to the campaign and the payments reflect the fair market value of those services.”
The spokesperson added that there is no definition for “fair market value,” however.
For Bobby Rush, this is not the first time he has used campaign funds to enrich his family. In 2016, Rush paid four family members over $100,000 during the campaign cycle The Washington Free Beacon reported. These payments went to his then-wife, Carolyn, who passed away in 2016, his brother Marlon, his mother Cora and also his son Jeffrey.
Bobby Rush paid his former wife hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2002, the Washington Free Beacon also reported. Carolyn Rush received checks for “consulting services” while his son Flynn was paid for petition and polling drive services. In addition, his sister Judy received payment for receptionist work and office management.
A number of Democrats are vying to replace Rush in a reliably blue district this cycle.