Ilhan Omar violated Minnesota campaign finance rules, state officials say
search

Ilhan Omar violated Minnesota campaign finance rules, state officials say

Board tells congresswoman to pay back nearly $3,500 for expenses including personal out-of-state travel and help on her tax returns

In this March 6, 2019, file photo, US Rep. Ilhan Omar sits with fellow Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee during a bill markup, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
In this March 6, 2019, file photo, US Rep. Ilhan Omar sits with fellow Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee during a bill markup, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

ST. PAUL, Minnesota — US Rep. Ilhan Omar violated state rules when she used campaign funds to pay for personal out-of-state travel and help on her tax returns and must reimburse her former campaign committee nearly $3,500, Minnesota campaign finance officials ruled this week.

The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board said the first-term Democratic congresswoman also must pay the state a $500 civil penalty for using campaign money to travel to Florida, where she accepted an honorarium.

The board found Omar’s campaign bought a plane ticket to Boston to speak at a political rally; paid for a hotel in Washington, DC, where Omar participated in an interview for the Girl UP UN conference; and covered her travel to Chicago to accept an award and attend a fundraising luncheon, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

Under state law, trips must be reasonably related to serving in office. Omar was a state representative from Minneapolis at the time of the violations. She was elected to the US House last November.

Republican state Rep. Steve Drazkowski initially raised the complaints against Omar. He suggested that Omar used $2,250 in campaign funds to pay a lawyer for her divorce proceedings. Omar has said those payments to her attorney were campaign-related fees.

The board found the fee was actually reimbursement to two other law firms for work related to immigration and tax documents. The board also determined that $1,500 spent to correct an issue on Omar’s tax return was not a campaign-related expense and must be returned.

According to the board, evidence indicates that the $2,250 was not payment for Omar’s marital dissolution. The board directed Omar to file an amended report with more information about the law firm payments.

Omar had called the claims politically motivated. In a statement, her congressional campaign said she is “glad this process is complete” and that she intends to comply with the board’s findings.

Drazkowski said in a statement that the results provide “no reassurance to Minnesotans,” and the report “raises even more troubling questions.”

In February, Omar drew wide condemnation for a tweet in which she seemed to say that US support for Israel had to do with donations from the pro-Israel lobby. She also accused pro-Israel activists and lawmakers of “allegiance to a foreign country.”

Many said the tweet drew on anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish influence and money. Previously, she drew criticism for a 2012 tweet, in which she said that Israel had “hypnotized” the world.

JTA contributed to this report.

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Become a member of The Times of Israel Community
read more:
comments