He’s in favor of wealth distribution — to himself.
Freshman Bronx/Westchester Congressman Jamaal Bowman took a generous salary from his own campaign coffers while running for office, just weeks after saying he would go salary-free during his congressional race.
Between March and November of 2020, Democrat Bowman pocketed $27,500 from his campaign committee, FEC records show. That translates to roughly $687 per week.
An educator by trade, Bowman unseated 16-term incumbent Eliot Engel in the 2020 Democratic primary — one of the biggest Congressional upsets in the country. Bowman is a card-carrying member of the city’s Democratic Socialists and has frequently been touted as an emerging member of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Squad.”
Bowman told The Intercept in January that he would forego a salary in order to ensure that 100% of donations went to staff and campaign expenses during his race.
As a middle-school principal he was making $164,737 at the time. He and his wife, Melissa Oppenheimer, a teacher, reported more than $250,000 in income on his 2019 financial disclosure report.
“I have a son in college, a daughter in day care, I have a mortgage, and both my wife and I have student loans,” Bowman told the friendly left-leaning publication.
“It is a huge, huge sacrifice to run,” Bowman, 44, continued. “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.”
One Progressive Democrat was not impressed by the flip flop.
“There’s nothing progressive about making promises and breaking them,” the party operative and Bowman supporter told The Post.
There is no indication Bowman ever publicly revealed his charge of heart on the issue to his donors, who were told in an August fundraising email that “every dollar you chip in goes directly towards supporting the work that we do for New York’s 16th District and our progressive movement.”
It is perfectly legal for candidates to take a salary from their campaign committees. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took in more than $10,000 from her committee in 2018.
“For working class candidates to be able to compete with millionaire-backed entrenched career politicians, they are going to need to afford to live while they run and for that to happen, they are going to need to pay themselves from the campaign,” AOC’s former campaign spokesman Corbin Trent told The Post, defending Bowman. “Not only do I think it’s OK, but it’s great that folks are out there making it seem more normal.”
Bowman’s behavior is in keeping with a pattern of Squad members using donor cash for themselves. Rep. Ilhan Omar funneled at least $2.8 million to a consulting firm owned by her husband since 2019. Rep Rashida Tlaib was forced to pay back $10,800 in salary she took from her campaign, although a House Ethics Committee cleared her of wrongdoing.
In a statement, a rep for Bowman defended the payments.
“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. He took small stipends from the campaign as infrequently as possible, fully in accordance with all local and federal law, and believes we need comprehensive campaign finance reform that makes it possible for working people to run for office, reducing the number of multi-millionaires in Congress.”