Michigan prosecutors reviewing cases after lab scientist fired over mishandled documents

Ethics case probes campaign salary paid to Tlaib after election

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Washington — The ethics complaint pending against U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib likely stems from her taking salary payments from her campaign committee after the conclusion of last year's general election. 

The Detroit Democrat's office said Monday that the matter before the House Ethics Committee involves the same claims over her campaign salary that conservative outlets had reported in March. 

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit

At the time, the outlets highlighted $17,500 in salary payments to Tlaib from her campaign committee made in November and December 2018 after the conclusion of the general election. Tlaib's campaign reported the payments to the Federal Election Commission. 

A spokesman for the House Ethics Committee declined to comment Monday after the panel disclosed that it was looking into unspecified allegations involving Tlaib. 

Committee leaders noted that while they are required to disclose their extended review of the matter, doing so "does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the committee." 

The ethics panel is reviewing a referral by the Office of Congressional Ethics, which sends an investigation to the committee when it determines there's a substantial reason to believe a violation might have occurred. 

"Rep. Tlaib has cooperated completely with the Committee to resolve the referral," spokesman Denzel McCampbell said Monday. 

"Rep. Tlaib fully complied with the law and acted in good faith at all times."

Tlaib drew $45,500 in salary from her campaign committee in 2018, according to disclosure reports. About $28,000 of that was paid from May through Nov. 1 of 2018, and $17,500 after the Nov. 6 general election. 

Under federal law, candidates may pay themselves a salary as long as they are not an incumbent officeholder and the salary paid comes from the principal campaign committee.

Salary payments may continue until the date when the candidate is no longer considered a candidate for office (because he or she withdrew or became ineligible), or until the date of the general election or general election runoff, according to the FEC.

"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," FEC regulations state.

"If the candidate loses the primary, withdraws from the race, or otherwise ceases to be a candidate, no salary payments may be paid beyond the date he or she is no longer a candidate."

Tlaib, a former state lawmaker from Detroit, succeeded resigned Detroit Democratic U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. in January.

During her campaign last year, Tlaib said she took a leave of absence from her position as a lawyer for the Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice to campaign, cutting down her hours at the firm to seven a week.

Campaign donors wanted her to win and understood it entailed stepping away from a steady paycheck to spend more time with voters, Tlaib said at the time.

“I pay exactly what I need for me to step away from my full-time position,” she said.