Ilhan Omar denies media request for her tax returns amid allegations of fraud

June 12, 2019

Ilhan Omar denies media request for her tax returns amid allegations of fraud Image Source: Video Screenshot

While Ilhan Omar (D-MN) demands that Donald Trump release his tax returns, she has ignored a request to release her own records to clear up allegations of fraud.

Minnesota campaign finance officials revealed last week that Omar filed joint tax returns with one man while still married to another, which is illegal under Minnesota and federal law. The campaign officials ordered Omar to pay fines and compensation for numerous campaign finance violations.

Do as I say, not as I do

The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board revealed Thursday that Omar filed taxes in 2014 and 2015 with her current husband, Ahmed Hirsi, when she was still married to her first spouse. Omar did not divorce her previous husband, Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, until 2017.

Under Minnesota state and federal law, joint tax returns must be filed with a legal spouse. The tax irregularity was buried in a damning report, which also revealed that Omar’s campaign broke campaign finance law several times.

Minnesota campaign officials ordered Omar to pay roughly $4,000 in compensation and fines for misusing campaign funds on out-of-state travel and tax services that she personally benefited from. The AP also confirmed that Omar “filed joint tax returns with her husband years before they were legally married.”

The allegations of tax fraud against Omar have an ironic punch given Omar’s insistence, echoed by many Democrats, that President Trump release his own tax returns. Democrats claim that the Constitution gives them broad “oversight” power to demand Trump’s tax returns and other personal financial records, but Republicans have argued that Democrats have no right to trample over Trump’s privacy without a compelling and legitimate purpose.

Playing ignorant

Omar has said that Trump is “required by law” to release his tax returns, but when it comes to her own records, she seems to be playing by different rules. “Omar has so far kept her tax returns private,” the AP reported. “While she has called for President Donald Trump to release his tax returns, her campaign did not acknowledge the AP’s request to release hers.”

Omar’s campaign also ignored a request to answer specific questions from the AP, instead issuing a broad, generic statement asserting that Omar’s tax returns were in line with the law: “All of Rep. Omar’s tax filings are fully compliant with all applicable tax law.”

In a statement last week, Omar said that she would comply with Minnesota campaign officials who ordered her to pay $3,500 to her former campaign for illicit expenses on travel and legal services, as well as a $500 fine to Minnesota. The officials found that Omar spent $1,500 in campaign money on legal services relating to her joint tax returns that came with no clear benefit to her campaign.

Fed up

The tax fraud and campaign finance scandals are just the latest controversies to embroil the first-term lawmaker. Since entering Congress, Omar has repeatedly caused controversy with careless, uncalibrated remarks that have been widely perceived as anti-Semitic and anti-American. In an editorial Tuesday, Omar’s hometown newspaper, the Minnesota Star Tribune, wrote that she “seems to bring a fresh problem” every month.

“Omar’s political rise has been marred by a series of unforced errors, including intemperate remarks and tweets earlier this year that were widely perceived as anti-Semitic,” the paper’s editorial board wrote before blasting Omar’s tax controversy as just the latest example of a pattern of carelessness.

“It’s against the law in Minnesota to file jointly unless one filer is legally married to the other,” they wrote. “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,” the board added. “That is something that voters, who are obliged to follow tax laws no matter how painful, are entitled to know.”

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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.