FACT CHECK: Bush's court cases aren't criminal despite claims by Rogers

3 weeks 3 hours 19 minutes ago Thursday, October 01 2020 Oct 1, 2020 Thursday, October 01, 2020 9:36:00 AM CDT October 01, 2020 in News
By: Veronica Mohesky, The Columbia Missourian

MISSOURI- On Sept. 15, Anthony Rogers made a hefty claim on Facebook against his opponent, Democrat Cori Bush.

“Cori Bush is a career criminal and a con artist. Think twice before you fall for the bulls---, St. Louis,” said Rogers, the Republican candidate for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District.

He included a picture of Bush’s cases on a page in Casenet, a database for court cases. The picture shows eight court cases his opponent was involved in. Bush has 11 cases in all — but all of them are civil, not criminal.

A criminal is someone who commits an offense against the state — a crime — as opposed to a civil case, where one person or institution sues another, according to the American Bar Association. A con artist, according to Merriam-Webster, is “a person who tricks other people in order to get their money.”

Bush’s 11 cases happened between 1999 and 2018. The types of cases are listed in Casenet as tax actions, landlord actions and contract actions. For instance, Convergence Receivables LC received a default judgment against Bush and had her wages garnished. The company is one of a group of businesses known as debt buyers that purchase past-due accounts from businesses and then try to collect from individuals. Bush’s cases show that she’s been in debt on multiple occasions — for rent, credit cards and tax issues.

“They look like a variety of collection actions,” MU law professor Frank Bowman III said. “I mean, it looks like she certainly had some trouble paying her bills from time to time.”

Bush’s website attributes the delinquencies to her financial issues as a single mother.

“Cori Bush’s tax burden was more than she could afford as a working class, single mother who was also paying off student loans for her nursing degree,” the website reads.

The site acknowledges that Bush has dealt with lawsuits for not paying taxes and says Bush has also experienced homelessness.

Bowman says these cases probably deal with delinquent or late payments, such as for local tax bills.

He also says Rogers should be careful about calling people criminals.

“When you accuse someone of a crime, actually committing a crime, and they have not committed a crime, I mean, normally that's libelous,” Bowman said.

Rogers’ response

When shown that all of Bush’s cases are civil and not criminal, Rogers said he still supports what he said in his Facebook post: that she is literally a criminal.

In an email and an interview with Rogers, the candidate gave a number of claims about why Bush is still a con artist and criminal. Here’s what Rogers said.

Bush has not sent in her personal financial disclosure to the House of Representatives.

She pays herself with campaign contributions.

She says she’s a pastor, but doesn’t work for a church.

She says she is a nurse but was “disbarred.”

We looked into each of his claims.

According to the House of Representatives Office of the Clerk, Bush sent in her personal financial disclosure Aug. 15. She was three months late. There is a $200 fine for every 30 days the disclosure is overdue, though House rules allow for extensions, according to the House of Representatives Committee on Ethics. It is unclear if Bush got an extension, as her team would not comment. Candidates are only prosecuted if they do not submit their disclosure at all, or if they falsify their disclosure documents.

According to the Federal Election Commission, it is legal to use campaign contributions as a salary. So far, Bush has reported wage expenses of $25,285 from her 2020 campaign.

According to Bush’s website, she is an ordained pastor, and pastored at Kingdom Church International in St. Louis, which she founded, from 2013-2015. Now she “has since taken her faith-based work directly into the streets, where she serves as a spiritual support for the unhoused community.”

According to Bush’s website, she did lose her certification as a nurse. After paying her outstanding tax debts, her nursing license was reinstated.

Our ruling

Rogers called Bush a “career criminal and a con artist” on Facebook, but there is no evidence to suggest that Bush is either. The court cases Rogers provided as evidence were all civil cases.

None of the purported evidence provided by Rogers to back his claim held up to the facts, either. When told of our findings, Rogers insisted he was still right.

Due to his denial of the facts and baseless claims, we rate Rogers’ claim False.

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