The life of a politician can range from the mundane to an out-of-control wildfire. Representative Rashida Tlaib (D), is finding this out as the House Ethics Committee is preparing to release their findings on a case that began in August. Reports circulated by the Republicans insisted that there was a strong likelihood that she had misappropriated her campaign funds. As any person running for office can attest, the cost can add up quickly. Most of their time is absorbed with one town hall meeting after another. Spending time on the campaign trail means not spending time at work. Unfortunately, with a lack of funds to even stay on top of daycare, Rep. Tlaib began sending text messages to senior staff members requesting money. In short, she described her situation as “I’m sinking.” Part-time work was not enough to cover her most essential needs like childcare and car maintenance. It appears that her staff may have wrongly assumed that they were allowed to give her funds to cover her necessities.
However, Ryan Anderson and other senior staffers agreed to give her a stipend of $4000 a month. This assistance was what she needed to be able to stay in the race. Most of the public might like to believe that congresspeople work in the capital all year round. Unfortunately, that is not quite the truth. When Congress is not in session, congresspeople typically return to their home districts to meet with constituents, plan and execute initiatives and fundraising. Some return to day jobs that help them with their financial hurdles. Unfortunately, this request shows that Rashida Tlaib was not prepared for the realities of running for public office.
It was clear from an April 4th email in which she says, “I am just not going to make it through the campaign without a stipend. With the loss of a second income to lean back on, I am requesting $2,000 per two weeks but not exceeding $12,000…” Rashida Tlaib had even considered earning money by renting out her home. While consideration can be given to the fact that she did indeed ask her senior staff about giving her money, hindsight is 20/20. Ryan Anderson seemed to be more concerned that she was continuing to work at the Sugar Law Center. To be sure that she was not in violation of any rules, she should have run this request by the House Ethics Committee. Moreover, it also begs understanding as to if she and her staff were given classes regarding how to spend campaign funds ethically. If the classes were required by candidates running for office this could have been avoided. For now, Rashida Tlaib will need to explain her request to the House Ethics Committee.