For more than a week they have been the most talked-about women in America, but no one, it seems, is talking about the serious allegations of misconduct against "The Squad"--the four freshman Democrats who became media darlings when President Trump began criticizing them on Twitter.
The media, though, has been almost totally silent on the morally dubious, potentially criminal alleged actions of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib.
Tlaib began her political career by running for the Michigan House of Representatives in 2008, winning a crowded Democratic primary and then cruising to a general election victory with 90 percent of the vote in the overwhelmingly Democratic district in southwestern Detroit.
The only problem? She might not have actually lived in that district and thus might not have been eligible to run. Her own father, Harbi Elabeb, told the Detroit News in 2010 that his daughter lied about her residency.
"She lied big-time to get elected," he said. "I never teach her that way. I teach her the right way. It’s my house. She didn’t live there. She lived in Dearborn in her house with her husband and boy."
Dearborn, the paper noted, "is not a part of the 12th House District that Tlaib was elected to represent.
"According to property and tax records, Tlaib lived in a house on Tireman in Dearborn that her husband purchased a decade ago. Taxes were paid on that house in 2009 with her husband claiming it as his primary residence. But in 2008, as Tlaib was preparing for a run for the seat, she said she separated from her husband and moved into her father’s house with her two brothers."
She claimed to have utility bills to support this, but it is unclear whether she ever provided them to the Detroit News.
Elabeb apparently came forward with damaging information about his daughter because he was upset with her over "a dispute about care of his aged mother, who suffers from dementia" in what he called "a complete breach of family values."
The two eventually reconciled, but Tlaib never cleared up where exactly she lived when she first ran for the Michigan House. Although it is difficult to prove residency violations in Michigan since there is "no law...saying that a person must spend any particular number of days, weeks or months at a certain location," if Tlaib did indeed lie about her primary residence on her official campaign and legislative paperwork, she would be guilty of perjury, which The Detroit News noted "is an offense punishable by up to five years in prison and a $1,000 fine."
After Tlaib was term-limited from the House in 2014, she ran for the State Senate but lost in the Democratic primary. Four years later, after Congressman John Conyers resigned in disgrace after it was disclosed he repeatedly sexually harassed female staffers, Tlaib won the race to replace him.
According to the paper, she "began paying herself on May 7, 2018, from Rashida Tlaib for Congress, her campaign committee, and averaged $4,000 per month outside of August, which included two checks of $3,000 each. From May 7 until the general election on Nov. 6, Tlaib paid herself a total of $28,000 in payments from the campaign committee, which first-time candidates are permitted to do up until the day of the general election if they so choose."
But then Tlaib kept paying herself, writing "a $2,000 check on Nov. 16 and disbursed $15,500 to herself on Dec. 1, which was well above the average of what she was paying herself during the campaign."
An election law attorney told the Free Beacon that while it appears that the first check on the 16th "might be for the candidate's salary for the first two weeks of November," the election occurred on November 6th. Since Tlaib's campaign was legally barred from paying her after that date, she was paying herself $333 a day (which would have averaged out to $87,000 for the full year) for the six days she worked for the campaign in November.
So what was the second payment two weeks later for?
"The $15,500 payment is interesting," the attorney told the Free Beacon. "It's not 100% clear what she's doing, but what she may have done is to low ball her earlier payments for political purposes (at $2k), knowing full well that she would make up any difference at the end by giving herself a lump sum payment," the lawyer continued. "That would let her skirt negative publicity, of the sort that Alan Keyes generated when he paid himself a sizable salary. An after-the-fact, lump sum payment cuts against the purpose of the rule, which is to help the candidate pay for daily living expenses while campaigning."
In other words, Tlaib was at the very least bending the rules to transfer campaign money to her own personal bank account.
"I pay exactly what I need for me to step away from my full-time position," she told the Detroit News when the payments first came to light last summer. If that is true, then why did she need so much more after the election (when payments to her were illegal) than before? Could it be that she was trying to squeeze out every last dollar before she couldn't simply dip into her campaign coffers every time she needed some cash?
All told, Tlaib paid herself $45,500 for the seven months she spent on the campaign trail, an average of $6,500 per month. Of that $45,500, she paid herself a full $17,500 (38 percent) after Election Day, when such payments are potential Federal Election Commission violations.
Tlaib has not commented on the payments since issuing her terse (and rather obviously false) statement a year ago, and why would she? Even though she's now one of the most famous politicians in America, the media has not bothered to ask her about them.