Federal Election Commission Must Act on Ilhan Omar Campaign Cash to Husband

Mynett and Omar

Rep. Ilhan Omar’s new husband Tim Mynett continues to be the largest recipient of her campaign spending. During the first quarter of 2020, Mynett’s consulting firm, the E Street Group, received $292,814. The couple was married in March.

Omar’s second quarter report is due July 15.

In the third quarter of 2019, Mynett’s firm received $146,713. In the fourth quarter it received $217,000. Since 2018, when Mynett started working for Omar, his firm has received a total of $878,930.65.

In a Complaint to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on August 28, 2019, NLPC alleged that Omar made personal use of campaign funds by reimbursing Mynett’s expenses while he traveled around the country with her.

According to the Complaint, “It appears that Respondent Mynett’s travel as reported by Ilhan for Congress may have been unrelated, or only partially related, to Omar’s campaign. If Ilhan for Congress reimbursed Mynett’s LLC  for travel so that Rep. Omar would have the benefit of Mynett’s romantic companionship, the expenditure must be considered personal in nature.”

NLPC’s Complaint also alleged that Omar’s campaign failed to itemize travel reimbursements to Mynett. FEC regulations require that for travel exceeding $500, campaigns must report the individual receiving the reimbursement as the payee, and report the payments aggregating over $200 of any one vendor, such as airlines and hotels. Omar’s campaign simply reported lump sum payments to E Street Group for “travel expenses.”

In the intervening months, the FEC took no action because it lacked a quorum. That situation was resolved when James Trainor was confirmed by the Senate on May 19. Trainor was elected FEC Chairman on June 18.

Even when it has a full slate of commissioners, the FEC is notoriously ineffective. It can fulfill its mandate by investigating this obviously flagrant case of misuse of campaign funds. Although it is not illegal for campaigns to hire relatives of the candidate, it is certainly illegal to convert campaign funds to personal use. 

In October 2019, Omar filed for divorce from her husband Ahmed Hirsi, which was granted in November. Mynett was also granted a divorce from his wife in November.

Omar married Hirsi in 2002 and separated in 2008 after having two children with him. In 2009, Omar married Ahmed Elmi, who is alleged to be her brother. In 2011, Omar and Elmi “split” and Omar supposedly reconciled with Hirsi, with whom she had a third child a year later.

According to media reports citing unidentified sources, Hirsi is to receive $250,000 over six years as part of the divorce settlement.

As I told the Washington Post on March 13, “As far as the nuptials, I think this event underscores the problems we cited in our Complaint. You have a member of Congress paying a close friend and now-husband the bulk of her campaign spending.”