A Further Tangled Web for Ilhan Omar

The celebrity freshman Democrat has an interesting marital and tax history.

Michael Swartz · Jun. 14, 2019

It was only a couple of weeks ago that we profiled Minnesota freshman Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar. We did so to chronicle the simmering hatred she’s espoused since winning state office in 2016 and a U.S. congressional seat last year. And our critique seems even more justified now, as new revelations have slowly leaked out of the Twin Cities area.

Omar’s tangled web, however, doesn’t just involve the minor news item of spending campaign money on personal items. In this case, the state’s campaign-finance board ordered Omar to repay nearly $3,500, mainly spent on travel unrelated to her duties as a Minnesota state legislator. Instead, it involves Omar’s two marriages — one to Ahmed Hirsi, the father of her three children, and the other marriage to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi. Omar was married to Elmi from 2009 to 2017, but claimed that in 2011 she received a “faith divorce” from him. This distinction is important, because Omar filed her taxes jointly with Hirsi on two separate tax returns in 2014 and 2015 — though they were not legally married until last year. Minnesota doesn’t permit the filing of joint returns by two parties who aren’t married.

In a case of closing the barn door after the horse is out, Omar’s hometown newspaper is finally showing some curiosity. A Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial this week noted, “Last year Omar told the Star Tribune that she had married her partner ‘in her faith,’ and had earlier divorced her first husband ‘in her faith.’ That’s fine for religious purposes. But for tax purposes, only civil marriages qualify. It’s not known whether she benefited materially by filing jointly. That is something that voters, who are obliged to follow tax laws no matter how painful, are entitled to know.” The editorial goes on to document other issues Omar has faced in just two years in public office.

But the filing of improper tax returns only scratches the surface. Rumors have swirled around Omar’s marriage to Elmi: that it was a sham in order to allow Elmi — who, as the story goes, is Omar’s brother — to fraudulently enter the country. This is supported by the fact that no children came from the Elmi marriage, while all three of Omar’s children were born out of wedlock with Hirsi. Yet this marriage “in her faith” to Elmi includes a piece of paper that vouched for its legality.

But even if there’s nothing to these rumors, Omar is being less than cooperative about a potential case of perjury. As Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey opines with tongue firmly in cheek:

Maybe her fellow House Democrats can help pry (other tax returns) out of Omar. After all, they’re demanding full transparency from Donald Trump on his tax returns even though they can’t even point to probable cause for a crime. The Minnesota Campaign Finance Board found clear evidence of tax violations with Omar in the two years of tax returns they reviewed, on top of previous campaign-finance violations. Shouldn’t that prompt House Democrats to apply the same transparency standard to Omar?

We believe that falls into the category of “when pigs fly.”

But it’s notable how little national coverage this episode is receiving, especially when there’s a golden opportunity for an intrepid journalist to “make a difference” and help force a corrupt politician out of office. Of course, Omar is innocent until proven guilty, but we’re reminded of a recent $35 million investigation that was launched on a far weaker factual foundation than what we see here.

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