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‘Squad’ member under DOJ investigation is still paying her husband with campaign funds, filings show

Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., paid her husband another $15,000 from her candidate committee this year even as she faces a Justice Department probe into her campaign spending, new filings show.The progressive “Squad” member’s campaign made two $2,500 wage payments to her spouse, Cortney Merritts, each month between January 1 and March 29, according to documents submitted to the Federal Election Commission and released on Monday. In total, the Bush campaign has now paid Merritts $135,000 for security services since January 2022, which have been listed as “wage expenses” since April 2023. The Bush campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.CORI BUSH’S CAMPAIGN PAYS $17,500 MORE TO HER HUSBAND, BRINGING HIS TOTAL TO $120k, NEW FILINGS SHOWIn January, Bush released a statement that confirmed Department of Justice investigators were reviewing her campaign committee’s spending on security services. “As a rank-and-file member of Congress I am not entitled to personal protection by the House, and instead have used campaign funds as permissible to retain security services,” Bush said.”In accordance with all applicable laws and House rules, I retained my husband as part of my security team to provide security services because he has extensive experience in this area, and is able to provide the necessary services at or below a fair market rate.”Politicians can pay family members from their committees as long as they provide “bona fide” services at fair market value. However, Merrits pocketed the money as Bush’s campaign simultaneously spent significantly more on St. Louis-based companies, such as PEACE Security, for private detail. She has spent over $770,000 on such services.Merritts, whose online accounts and posts have indicated he worked at a railroad company for years before starting a moving company, did not have a private security license as of late February 2023. He also did not appear in a Washington, D.C., database of licensed security specialists, Fox News Digital previously reported. CORI BUSH’S CAMPAIGN CONTINUES TO SHELL OUT THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS TO HER HUSBAND FOR PRIVATE SECURITYWatchdog groups have filed at least two complaints against Bush over the security payments. The first complaint, filed by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust last year, is still pending. The House Ethics Committee has since cleared Bush in a second complaint from the Committee to Defeat the President.Bush’s campaign has declined to respond to multiple Fox News Digital inquiries about the payments.In October, Fox News Digital confronted Merritts as the couple left a Washington, D.C., fundraiser for California Democrat candidate Derek Marshall. During the exchange, Merritts appeared to backtrack about his role in the campaign after telling the videographer he does not have one.”I don’t have a role in the campaign, man,” Merritts told a videographer when asked what his role in the campaign is. CORI BUSH’S CAMPAIGN PAID HER HUSBAND FOR SECURITY SERVICES – BUT HE DOESN’T HAVE A PRIVATE SECURITY LICENSEHowever, when pressed, he said he was employed with the campaign. “I’m still in the campaign; I still do security with the campaign. Have a good night, man. Be safe,” Merritts said before getting into a car with Bush.FEC filings also show Bush is still at a significant cash disadvantage in the Democratic primary for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District.Ahead of the Aug. 6 primary, Bush reported $528,622 cash on hand as of March 31. Her opponent, Wesley Bell, a progressive prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County who differs from Bush in his Israel stance, has more than double at his disposal, with $1.14 million in his war chest. Bell is backed by wealthy Democratic donors, including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, who contributed the maximum of $6,600 to his campaign for the primary and general elections, filings show. A recent poll found that Bush may also be in trouble come August. Bell is currently up by 22 points over the “Squad” member, the New York Post reported.Fox News Digital’s Joe Schoffstall contributed to this report.
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House Republicans excoriate Ilhan Omar suggesting Columbia University protests not ‘anti-Jewish’

House Republicans excoriated progressive “Squad” Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., for suggesting during the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s hearing tackling antisemitism at Columbia University that none of the demonstrations deriding Jews on campus have been “anti-Jewish.” Fox News Digital caught up with two Republicans on the committee at the Capitol after the hearing, asking their thoughts about Columbia University President Dr. Nemat “Minouche” Shafik initially testifying that she had not seen any campus protests that were explicitly “anti-Jewish.” Omar argued that campus demonstrations were merely “pro-war” or “anti-war,” but House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., further pressed Shafik on whether she considered anti-Israel agitators’ chants of “F– the Jews” and “Death to the Jews” in fact anti-Jewish. Shafik conceded that those slogans heard on campus were “completely anti-Jewish,” amending her earlier testimony. “I thought her answer to that was wrong to begin with, and she had a chance to correct it. I was flabbergasted, actually, when she said no,” committee Chair Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., told Fox News Digital at the Capitol after the hearing. “She said there had been no anti-Jewish, incidents. Well, what is this whole hearing about? The whole hearing is about that.” STEFANIK SLAMS COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY ‘ARROGANCE,’ ‘INCONSISTENT TESTIMONY’: ‘RECKONING OF ACCOUNTABILITY'”What I found interesting is the leadership’s response to that. And you saw Representative Stefanik really follow up with that,” Rep. Brandon Williams, R-N.Y., told Fox News Digital of the exchange. “They are in deep denial that they cover with these clever phrases … just because everything inside the protest was antisemitic, well, it wasn’t an antisemitic protest because it wasn’t labeled as such. Now that’s absurd. You know, I think a third grader would be able to discern, you know, the deception. But, but evidently that’s hard for, you know, the professors and the leadership at Columbia.” As the hearing was underway, protesters could be heard yelling outside demanding entry to the Capitol proceeding. Back at Columbia University’s campus in New York City, hundreds of anti-Israel agitators staged an “occupation” protest calling for the Ivy League school to “divest” from Israel. Video captured demonstrators lighting flares after nightfall, and the New York City Police Department arrested at least four people Thursday morning when crowds defied the school’s order to cease the “encampment,” which included tents set up on a campus lawn.”I think it’s very important that the Jewish students know that this committee has their back, that we will continue to fight with them against antisemitism,” Foxx told Fox News Digital. “And that’s my commitment to them. I think they understand that commitment. They’ve seen the other hearings that we’ve had. They’ve heard the things that we’ve said. And I think it’s important that they know they’re not alone on that campus, that we are going to be with them, whether we’re there physically with them, we’re there, mentally, psychologically and morally with them.” HOUSE REPUBLICANS GRILL COLUMBIA PRESIDENT OVER EMPLOYMENT OF PROF WHO CALLED OCT 7 HAMAS ATTACK ‘AWESOME’Foxx and other House Republicans hosted a group of Jewish students at the Capitol, offering them the opportunity to speak at a press conference before hearing kicked off Wednesday morning. One of those students, Eden Yadegar, the daughter of Iranian immigrants, described recent instances of antisemitism on campus, including how a tenured Columbia professor allegedly told students that Jews who regularly attend temple are “indoctrinated,” a Jewish student having a Star of David necklace ripped from her neck, and on several occasions Jewish students being accosted by other students at the law school or in the kosher section of the dining hall yelling, “F— the Jews.” She said Jewish students have grown fearful of reporting instances of discrimination and harassment because “of how little faith they have that the university will take the necessary steps to protect them,” arguing the “university’s action has left Jewish students abandoned” after months of silence from the school leadership. Another student who spoke at the press conference, Yola Ashkenazi, described how Columbia has recognized clubs that say things like, “Zionists not invited,” and, “the Holocaust wasn’t that special.” She cited how swastikas have been drawn in campus buildings and said, “Columbia permits hate rallies on our campus that call for violence and eradication of the Jewish state” and call for “intifada revolution.” Ashkenazi described how on Feb. 2, when one of her friends was physically held outside the wall of the campus fitness center by demonstrators, Columbia public safety officers told him afterward to “not wear anything identifying him as Jewish when tensions are high.” Speaking with Fox News Digital ahead of the hearing, Yadegar said she was not surprised by the anti-Israel demonstrations happening again back on campus.”I think that we’ve gotten to a point where these student demonstrators feel that anything is fair game because they have not been disciplined adequately, and so I’m hoping that this hearing will shift us away from that direction,” Yadegar said outside the committee room. “We’ve been isolated on campus in certain organizations, in the classroom. It’s been incredibly difficult, but the Jewish people are incredibly resilient, and as Americans, as Jews, it’s our duty to continue to participate in these spaces that we’ve worked so hard to get to,” she said. “I do have a little bit of faith left in their leadership, and I do hope that they will follow through. They claim that antisemitism is abhorrent and that it has no space in our university, and our campus. The action over the past five months doesn’t coincide with that rhetoric, however the actions taken over the past couple of weeks are edging in that direction.”
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Republicans accuse Biden, Schumer of emboldening Iran prior to attack on Israel

Republicans in the Senate are accusing the Democratic Party, including President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., of emboldening Iran prior to the country’s recent attack on U.S. ally Israel.”Instead of standing with our ally, Israel, Democrats are focused on appealing to their radical left base, which hates Israel and is actively supporting Hamas and Iran,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told Fox News Digital.”To appease his base, Joe Biden allowed over $100 billion to flow to Iran. Iran then used that money to make drones and cruise missiles to attack Israel,” Cruz said. “In a very real sense, Joe Biden funded Iran’s attack on Israel. The Democrat position on Israel and Iran is as illogical as it is indefensible.”13 DEMS VOTE AGAINST RESOLUTION CONDEMNING IRAN AFTER ISRAEL STRIKEIran attacked Israel directly over the weekend, launching hundreds of drone strikes as well as a barrage of ballistic and cruise missiles. With the help of the U.S. military, Israel managed to intercept almost all the incoming drone and missile attacks. Iran’s previous involvement in attacks against Israel has been through proxies in countries such as Syria and Yemen. Launching an assault from within its own country marks a major escalation from a proxy fight to a direct attack.”Since October 7, Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer have tried to undermine Israel at every turn,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “Whether it’s on the battlefield, at the UN, or in Congress, they are more interested in pleasing the pro-Hamas wing of their party than they are in helping our greatest ally in the Middle East.”Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pointed to the Democratic Party’s shift on Israel, saying in a statement Saturday, “Tehran and its proxies are emboldened when they see divisions between the US and Israel.”Prior to the attack, Biden hardened his posture toward Israel as it fights Hamas in Gaza. Biden warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a call this month “that U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps” to address civilian casualties and ensure safety for humanitarian aid workers, according to the White House. The call followed an Israeli strike that led to the deaths of seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen.Last month, Schumer sparked outrage from Republicans after calling on Israel in a floor speech to hold elections to replace Netanyahu, who he said “has put himself in coalition with far-right extremists” and “has been too willing to tolerate the civilian toll in Gaza.””If Prime Minister Netanyahu’s current coalition remains in power after the war begins to wind down and continues to pursue dangerous and inflammatory policies that test existing U.S. standards for assistance, then the United States will have no choice but to play a more active role in shaping Israeli policy by using our leverage to change the present course,” Schumer said.Prior to his floor speech, Schumer requested a classified intelligence briefing, which he routinely receives, on the status of hostage negotiations between Israel and Hamas. The briefing revealed that there would be no disruptions to ongoing hostage negotiations if Schumer gave his speech, according to a source familiar.DEARBORN ACTIVISTS’ PUSH TO BAIL ON BIDEN SPREADS TO OTHER KEY BATTLEGROUND STATESHowever, the source was unable to say whether any implications regarding Iran were relayed during the briefing.Schumer’s office also hit back at the claims, with spokesperson Allison Biasotti saying in a statement, “Leader Schumer has been clear that the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security is ironclad, and that the best way to deter enemies of Israel, like Iran, is for the House to promptly pass the bipartisan supplemental bill, with over $17 billion urgently needed for Israel’s defense and U.S. operations against Iranian-backed aggression in the Red Sea, which Schumer already passed in the Senate.”The majority leader’s office said the attack on Israel was a response to the recent Israeli strike on Iran’s consulate in Damascus, Syria, adding that Iran and Israel have been engaged in a lengthy conflict for years.But according to one Democrat aide, there are senators in the party who are concerned about a growing number of Democrats’ posture on Israel potentially giving Iran the sense that American support is wavering for its ally.Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., accused Biden of trying to “walk a tightrope of appeasing an increasingly radical base of his party while upholding the mainstream American position of support for Israel.””The problem is the president isn’t walking a tightrope. He’s trying to straddle the Grand Canyon,” he said in a statement.ISRAEL’S ADVANCED MILITARY TECHNOLOGY ON FULL DISPLAY DURING IRAN’S ATTACKWhite House spokesperson Andrew Bates pushed back on criticism of Biden’s posture toward Israel, and he rejected claims he emboldened Iran to attack, in a statement to Fox News Digital.”Former Trump Administration officials and Fox News’ own reporting have debunked those lies,” he said.”President Biden is the only American President to have directly defended Israel, as he ordered the American military to do last weekend,” Bates said. “He is also the only American President to have set foot in Israel during wartime, in support of our ironclad commitment to their security. Unlike others, he did not rail against Israel in the days after October 7th, nor has he ever praised Hezbollah.”Meanwhile, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., pointed to a recent effort to force votes on a stand-alone Israel aid bill in the Senate as she criticized her Democrat counterparts.”This week, Senate Democrats again blocked immediate aid to Israel after Senator [Roger] Marshall and I demanded a vote to support our ally. The Left would rather play politics to appease their socialist base,” she told Fox News Digital in a statement.”It’s clear that the Biden administration and Leader Chuck Schumer refuse to back our most important ally in the Middle East,” Blackburn continued.Two Democrat congressional aides told Fox News Digital that the attack by Iran was expected. They said intelligence suggested it was in response to the consulate strike on April 1 that killed Iranian commanders.Nevertheless, the scale of the Iranian attack and its direct targeting of Israel shocked many observers.Democrats in the upper chamber objected to two requests for unanimous consent to vote on different versions of stand-alone Israel aid. However, most Democrats maintained support for a foreign aid package that ties Israel aid to Ukraine aid.McConnell said last month that Schumer’s call for new Israeli elections was both hypocritical and grotesque as well as “unprecedented.””Make no mistake, the Democratic Party doesn’t have an anti-[Netanyahu] problem. It has an anti-Israel problem,” the Republican leader said in floor remarks at the time.
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Dem-linked political group blasted for meddling in key GOP primary to boost challenger: ‘Lame attempt’

A California-based group linked to Democrats is getting involved in a Pennsylvania congressional primary by boosting a Republican against a Republican incumbent in the latest example of liberal funds being directed toward a GOP primary.True Patriots PA, a liberal group linked to California Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell, sent out mailers to Pennsylvania voters to slam GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and say he is not conservative enough, in essence boosting his primary opponent, Mark Houck, Politico first reported this week.Fox News Digital obtained some of those mailers that framed Fitzpatrick as a “RINO” (“Republican in name only”) and implied he wasn’t conservative enough for the base that supports former President Trump.”MAGA is ready to bag the biggest RINO in Congress,” reads one of the mailers along with a photo of Fitzpatrick photoshopped onto a rhinoceros body. “We sent Brian Fitzpatrick to D.C. to represent our values, instead, he became best friends with Kamala Harris and the Democrats,” another mailer said.STRATEGISTS WARN ELECTION MEDDLING, PROMOTION OF CERTAIN GOP CANDIDATES COULD ‘BACKFIRE’ ON DEMOCRATSFEC records show True Patriots PA spent roughly $26,000 on the mailer.Meagan Olson is listed as treasurer for both True Patriots PA and the Swalwell campaign.”I consider Brian a friend and someone who has bravely defied his party to help secure Ukraine aid,” Rep. Swalwell told Fox News Digital in a statement. “I have never heard of his primary opponent and am not involved or support any effort to defeat Brian in the primary. My office uses a professional compliance firm that serves as treasurer for dozens of campaigns.”When reached for comment, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) directed Fox News Digital to a Washington Post article in January 2024 in which DCCC Chair Rep. Suzan DelBene said her group no longer supports the strategy of propping up “far-right” candidates in swing districts.”It should come as no surprise that a group connected to Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat who is so dumb that he was tricked into sleeping with a Chinese spy, would be propping up self-described chronic masturbator Mark Houck in the Republican Primary against Brian Fitzpatrick,” Defending America PAC’s Chris Pack told Fox News Digital.”Even Democrats as intellectually challenged as Eric Swalwell know that their best chance at flipping the one seat needed to take back Democrat control of the House of Representatives is if Mark Houck beats Brian Fitzpatrick in the primary next Tuesday.” Houck, a pro-life activist, has made previous acknowledgments that he “had a pornography problem” as a young man and spoke openly at a church conference about talking to his son about masturbation and erections.DEMOCRATS RIPPED FOR ADMITTING ‘QUIET PART OUT LOUD’ AFTER PANIC ABOUT KEY STRATEGY HELPING TRUMP”I struggled with pornography, and of course that leads to sexual sin, masturbation and stuff. That was a chronic habit,” Houck said in a 2010 interview, which Defending America PAC included in an ad titled “Beat it.”In a recent statement, Houck said he “fell victim to the dehumanizing effects of the pornography industry” over “two decades ago.” He also defended the conversation about his son, saying the clips circulating online “seizes on de-contextualized comments I made with my son present in public pursuit of this transformative ministry” meant to steer people away from pornography.The Democrat group boosting Houck is the latest example of a recent trend in which liberal funds have been used to back Republican challengers in an effort to sink candidates who support or are supported by former President Trump.PACs linked to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have spent millions meddling in GOP primaries this cycle, including in swing state Senate races in Ohio and Montana.Duty and Country PAC, affiliated with Schumer, ran ads during the Ohio GOP Senate primary that accused Trump-backed businessman Bernie Moreno of being “too conservative for Ohio.” That effort proved unsuccessful in the primary as Moreno won every county in the Buckeye State, beating his nearest challenger by almost 20 points.In 2022, Democrats spent more than $40 million to boost six pro-Trump candidates in Republican primaries, and all six of those Republicans lost their general election races to Democrats.Fitzpatrick, who has so far declined to say if he will endorse Trump, voted against impeaching Trump twice and won re-election in 2022 by almost 10 points, despite Biden carrying the 1st Congressional district.”After years of brutal losses, the far-left has finally figured out they have no chance of beating Congressman Fitzpatrick, so they’ve now tagged California left-wing extremists to meddle in his primary using the same violent political rhetoric they claim to stand against,” Fitzpatrick campaign spokesperson Ben Trundy told Fox News Digital in statement.”This lame attempt to prop up Mark Houck, an admitted porn addict and serial grifter who believes in complete abortion bans with no exceptions, shows just how desperate they are to force their extreme policies on Bucks and Montgomery County voters.”
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Biden set to block millions of acres in Alaska from oil, gas drilling in Earth Day action

The Biden administration is planning to block oil and gas drilling across millions of acres in an Alaskan reserve, which Congress specifically set aside for resource development.The Department of Interior (DOI) is expected to finalize regulations on Friday, just days ahead of Earth Day. These regulations would effectively lock up more than 13 million acres of public land within the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A), sources familiar with the agency’s timing told Fox News Digital. The regulations represent one of the Biden administration’s most aggressive actions pushed under its climate and conservation agenda.According to the DOI, the regulations as proposed would create an outright prohibition on any new leasing across 10.6 million acres of the area, equivalent to about 40% of the entire NPR-A. They would additionally require DOI subagency the Bureau of Land Management to review whether to expand protected areas or create new protected areas in the NPR-A at least every five years.”With climate change warming the Arctic more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet, we must do everything within our control to meet the highest standards of care to protect this fragile ecosystem,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland previously said. “President Biden is delivering on the most ambitious climate and conservation agenda in history.”‘STOP APPEASING DICTATORS’: GOP SENATORS DEMAND BIDEN IMPOSE OIL SANCTIONS ON VENEZUELAUnder the administration’s actions curbing development in the NPR-A, future oil and gas leasing and industrial development would be strictly limited in the vast Teshekpuk Lake, Utukok Uplands, Colville River, Kasegaluk Lagoon and Peard Bay – “special areas” known for their rich wildlife populations on Alaska’s North Slope. DOI said closing the land off from resource development would help protect various wildlife species, including caribou.The regulations, initially proposed in September, have since garnered more than 10,000 public comment letters, reflecting both support for and opposition to the rules.And according to the Office of Management and Budget filings reviewed by Fox News Digital, DOI officials have met with several stakeholders.HALF OF US STATES REVOLT AGAINST EPA CRACKDOWN ON GAS CARS WITH MAJOR LEGAL CHALLENGEWhile the regulations have received support from Democrats and environmental groups, they have been blasted by the state of Alaska, Alaska’s bipartisan congressional delegation, local leaders, Indigenous groups, energy industry associations and Republican lawmakers.”Joe Biden is doing everything he can to attack American energy,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said during a press conference late Thursday. “They’re going to prohibit oil production in, of all places, the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. That’s like saying no more picnics in Yellowstone National Park.”Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, who organized the press conference, added in an interview with FOX Business on Thursday that locking up NPR-A lands would outsource oil and gas production to “regimes that hate us” like Russia, Venezuela and Iran.BIDEN ENERGY SECRETARY REVEALS STOCK OWNERSHIP OF EV LOBBY GROUP FOUNDING COMPANYIn February, Sullivan, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, sent a letter to the White House, urging it to consider the perspectives of Native Alaskans, many of whom support oil and gas development in the NPR-A.”While we obviously recognize the impacts of climate change on the Alaskan environment, the policy objectives of this administration do not negate congressional direction for the management of the Petroleum Reserve, nor do those objectives nullify the obligation to hear and consider the perspectives of the North Slope people that will be negatively impacted by this proposed rule,” several Native Alaskan leaders wrote in a comment letter to DOI.Overall, NPR-A spans 23 million acres of public land in northern Alaska. It was first established as a petroleum reserve for the U.S. Navy in 1923 before it was transferred in 1976 to DOI under the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act.DOI didn’t respond to a request for comment.
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