On Thursday, John wrote about the recently announced nuptials of Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and her then-campaign consultant Tim Mynett, the head of E Street Group. (The company denies having anything to do with Bruce Springsteen.) While Omars marital history still raises many questions, one of which Ill get to in a moment, the current media scrutiny about this event has more to do with questions of potential campaign finance impropriety. At the WaPo, Michelle Ye Hee Lee looks back at the new grooms involvement with Omars campaigns and the financial windfall it brought him and his firm.
Since 2018, Omars campaign paid about $586,000 to E Street Group for a range of services that included digital advertising, fundraising consulting, digital communications and design. The campaign also paid $7,000 to Mynett directly for fundraising consulting before hiring his consulting firm.
Payments to the firm in the 2019-2020 cycle for Omars reelection campaign comprised 40 percent of total campaign expenses, federal filings show.
Representatives for Omars campaign and Mynetts firm said this week that there was nothing improper about the payments because they were made for legitimate work.
It turns out that nearly half (40%) of all of Omars 2020 election cycle campaign expenses went directly to her new husbands firm. And despite her repeated previous denials, the idea that the two of them werent engaged in a romantic relationship throughout that period of time is now simply laughable. But was any of this against the law? Theres been an FEC complaint filed, calling for an investigation into these payments. Also, Charlie Kirk piped up recently to ask how this isnt a campaign finance violation.
We should keep in mind, however, that theres a difference between garbage optics in politics and actual violations of the law. Yes, this all looks bad. Really bad. It stinks on ice. But if E Street Group is a legitimate firm (as it appears to be) and they can document valid work that they were doing for the campaign, its not illegal for your boyfriends firm to be the entity doing it. And one of Mynetts partners is already on record saying they can document all of the work that various staffers there did for Omars campaign on a daily basis. Unless hes lying, it sounds like the FEC will come up dry on this investigation.
As I mentioned above, most of the questions about Omars marriage to her new husband (this is her fourth marriage to three different men) are probably nobodys business unless there are some campaign finance hijinks involved. What may still be of slightly more interest, is her marriage to her previous husband, Ahmed Nur Said Elmi. Weve seen repeated reports alleging that Elmi and Omar are brother and sister. Politifact, the Associated Press and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune have looked deeply into that question and none were able to reach a definitive answer one way or the other.
Why does it matter? Well, if we want to get really picky, its still technically illegal to marry your sibling in any state in America, including Minnesota. But almost no one is ever prosecuted for it. Also, Omars previous marriages were all religious ceremonies without having a formal marriage license, so I dont know if the state could make a case if it wanted to.
But what benefits, if any, accrued to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi from his marriage to Omar? Records on that guy are few and far between. Hes always described as being a British citizen, but did they ever try to obtain United States citizenship for him? Thats also unknown from what I could dig up, but if they did and the marriage was used as a partial basis for the application, that could add up to an immigration law issue. But then, since there was no license, could their marriage even be considered? Its enough to give you a headache just digging through all of this.
In the end, as I suggested at the top, there may be little or no fire underneath all of this smoke. If Omars new spouse can show that he earned all of that campaign money by doing defensible work on Omars campaign, they likely wont face any issues. And even if she did marry her brother, if he didnt wind up becoming a citizen, theyre probably in the clear there as well. Yes, marrying your brother is incredibly creepy, but its not a threat to her congressional seat unless she winds up in some real trouble with the law. And were still not entirely certain that Elmi even is her brother, to begin with.