Progressive Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) has only been a member of Congress for about a month, but already, he has shown himself to be just as duplicitous as any career politician.
Bowman had promised during the campaign season that he would not draw a salary from his campaign coffers, but federal records reveal that despite the vow, he did exactly that, as the New York Post reported Saturday.
Records from the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) reportedly show Bowman paid himself roughly $27,500 from funds that were donated to his congressional campaign.
A broken promise
To be sure, such a move is perfectly legal, albeit stringently regulated; candidates are allowed to pay themselves a salary out of campaign funds, provided that salary doesn’t exceed what they were earning in their previous job or would be earning if elected. The regulation is intended to help non-wealthy individuals continue to meet their normal financial obligations while running a full-time campaign.
That said, Bowman had promised during a January 2020 interview with The Intercept that he would be forgoing the allowable salary in order to ensure all donations went to his campaign. Instead, he said he would instead get by on retirement savings and a personal loan.
“I have a son in college, a daughter in daycare, I have a mortgage, and both my wife and I have student loans,” Bowman said at the time. “So it is a huge, huge sacrifice to run. But when you work 20 years in public schools, and when you see the systematic oppression the kids you serve face on a daily basis, and when you yourself come from that oppression, it gets to the point where enough is enough.
“The rich have built an economic system to maintain their wealth and power, and there’s a reason why 50% of Congress are millionaires,” the Democrat later added. “This system is rigged, and that’s what we’re fighting to change.”
Instead of fighting the “rigged” system, Bowman took all the benefits that system offers for himself in March, when he started to draw a salary from his campaign funds, FEC records show, according to the New York Post.
After an initial payment of $1,000 followed by several $500 disbursements, Bowman reportedly upped his salary to $2,500 every two weeks in July 2020, and increased it again to $3,750 every two weeks from September through Election Day in November.
An unnamed progressive Democrat operative told the Post that they were displeased to learn what Bowman had done. “There’s nothing progressive about making promises and breaking them,” they said.
For what it’s worth, a spokesperson for Bowman said in a statement to the Post that “while he wanted to try and live completely off savings as he ran for office, Rep. Bowman, like many New Yorkers, has student debt and housing payments, and quickly realized losing 100% of his salary was untenable.”
Only time will tell, however, if that excuse is good enough for Bowman’s constituents, who likely aren’t happy to hear that he’s already lying to them, just weeks into a two-year term.