May 25, 2022

Watchdog group seeks probe of Dem. Rep. Marie Newman’s use of campaign funds

The conduct of Democrat Rep. Marie Newman (IL) is under serious scrutiny in light of a request from an ethics watchdog group for the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to probe her alleged use of campaign funds to quash a potential primary challenge, as Breitbart reports.

This request follows a prior complaint filed by the same group, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), founded by former Trump administration Acting Attorney General Matthew Whittaker, which ultimately resulted in an Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) investigation of the claims against Newman.

As Breitbart noted, the OCE’s initial review of the allegations against Newman revealed that there was “substantial reason to believe” that she agreed to provide Iymen Chehade – a possible primary opponent in her congressional district – with a high-paid position on her staff if he pledged not to run against her.

According to the Daily Beast, Newman signed an agreement with Chehade in 2018 in which she would provide him with said paid employment if he stayed out of the aforementioned primary race and then ultimately reneged on the deal, prompting a lawsuit which was confidentially settled.

It ultimately emerged that Newman gave Chehade a role as a foreign policy advisor, but paid him through her campaign coffers, not through her congressional office budget, as the Daily Beast further noted.

Reports indicate that Chehade began receiving salary payments two days after his settlement with Newman was reached, and he was paid $7,500 each month with occasional extra supplements of $2,000 each.

Notably, those funds were remitted on a different schedule than salary payments made to the rest of Newman’s staff, and Chehade was – at the time – the highest-paid individual on the congresswoman’s team, by far.

With that as background, FACT is now asking the FEC to examine “whether Newman’s use of campaign funds” to pay Chehade’s salary comprises a “legitimate campaign expense” and is alleging that “the payments are likely not for fair market services to the campaign.”

Hopefully, the FEC will indeed get to the bottom of these alarming allegations against Newman and will hold her accountable if it is indeed established that these expenditures ran afoul of federal law.

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