Minnesota authorities have been investigating Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for allegedly using $6,000 in campaign funds to pay her divorce attorney and travel to Boston and Estonia when she served in the state legislature.
On Monday, ABC local affiliate 13 WHAM-TV reported that officials have concluded their investigation and will soon reveal the findings of two complaints against the controversial freshman congresswoman. The two complaints, were brought by State Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R). In his complaint to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board, Drazkowski accused Omar of spending nearly $6,000 in campaign money on a trip to Boston and Estonia and for divorce attorney fees.
“The Omar Committee’s 2017 year-end report shows several non-campaign disbursements for out-of-state travel for Rep. Omar to attend various events,” one notification read, according to Drazkowski. “The information on the committee’s 2017 year-end report does not indicate how attendance at these events would have helped Rep. Omar in the performance of her legislative duties.”
Minnesota state Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R) filed the complaints last year.
Drazkowski’s filing of the two complaints followed an earlier episode in which Omar repaid $2,500 for honoraria she received for speeches at colleges that receive state funding, a violation of ethics rules for Minnesota lawmakers.
“I had observed a long pattern,” Drazkowski told Sinclair in an interview from his office in southeastern Minnesota. “Representative Omar hasn’t followed the law. She’s repeatedly trampled on the laws of the state in a variety of areas, and gotten by with it.”
Approached by Sinclair as she left the Capitol on March 28, accompanied by an aide, Omar refused to answer any questions about the campaign finance allegations. The aide suggested Sinclair try to schedule an interview instead. When Sinclair contacted Omar spokesman Jeremy Slevin for that purpose, he directed that the inquiry be routed to his personal email account; an inquiry subsequently sent to that account produced no reply from Slevin. The Minnesota campaign finance board, following standard practice, declined to confirm or deny whether it has opened an investigation into the subject of any complaint.
Drazkowski has updated his website constantly with information about the complaints. The Minnesota Campaign Finance Board agreed to investigate after it reviewed Omar’s 2017 year-end reports. The board found “several noncampaign disbursements for out-of-state travel for Rep. Omar to attend various events” and concluded that the information “does not indicate how attendance at these events would have helped Rep. Omar in the performance of her legislative duties.”
Drazkowski claimed “that Omar’s gender and ethnicity — she is Muslim-American and an immigrant from Somalia — and her willingness to cast herself as a victim of discrimination make her critics fearful of speaking out against her, whether on substantive policy or ethics issues.” He may have a point. The campaign funds issue came up in a debate where she called Drazkowski “bigoted.”
Back in October, Omar explained she used the funds to pay her attorney as “crisis management services to her state House campaign.” The Minnesota Star Tribune editorial board insisted Omar needs a full and proper explanation to the voters in Minnesota’s Fifth District. The board demanded the explanation come before voters hit the polls, but from what I can tell, it never came.
Despite the controversy, Omar easily won the House seat against her Republican opponent by 80%. It’s not a shock since the district has not elected a Republican since 1963.
Omar has caused quite a stir since she began her first term in Congress in January with numerous anti-Semitic remarks, including a suggestion that Republicans only support Israel due to money.
ABC 7 said sources close to the investigative process will issue rulings by the end of May, if not before.