Minnesota U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, long dogged by questions about her personal life, filed for divorce Friday from her second husband, Ahmed Hirsi, according to court documents filed in Hennepin County District Court.
The divorce papers, filed on her 37th birthday, cite an "irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship" with Hirsi, a man with whom she has been romantically involved since at least 2002. The divorce was filed more than a month after a woman in Washington, D.C., accused Omar of having an affair with her husband.
Omar's attorney, Jaime Driggs, said in a statement Monday that "Just like any other family navigating this kind of transition, Ilhan wishes to have their privacy respected for themselves and their children and will not be commenting any further."
The statement also says that their marriage has "been the object of speculation and innuendo from political opponents and the media," which has "taken a significant toll" on the family.
Omar and Hirsi, who was a Minneapolis City Council aide for a short time earlier this year, have three children together, although they did not legally wed until 2018. She is seeking joint legal custody of the children, ages 16, 13 and 7.
Hirsi was not immediately available for comment Monday.
The court filings indicate that she signed the divorce petition while in the west African nation of Burkina Faso, where she was on an unannounced trip. Her office declined a request for comment. The divorce revelation also comes less than a week ahead of a rally in her Minneapolis district by President Donald Trump, one of her fiercest critics.
After a first year in Congress that has included allegations of anti-Semitism for statements she made about Jewish influence on the American relationship with Israel, the divorce is another instance in which she is attracting notoriety outside of her legislative work. The story was first reported by the celebrity gossip site TMZ, continuing a pattern of strong interest from the tabloid press from Los Angeles and New York to London.
In August, a Washington, D.C., physician alleged in divorce filings that her husband, national political consultant Tim Mynett, left her after becoming romantically involved with Omar, a client of his fundraising business. Both Omar and Mynett have denied an affair.
A conservative group later filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Omar illegally used campaign funds to pay travel expenses for Mynett. Federal campaign finance reports show that Omar's campaign paid Mynett's firm, E Street Group, more than $220,000 between Aug. 9, 2018, and June 30 this year. In the first six months of 2019, the reports show payments of $21,546.94 to the company for travel.
This is Omar's second official split from Hirsi. They applied for a marriage license in 2002 when Omar was 19, though they were never legally married until last year, before she made history as the first Somali-American, and one of the first two Muslim women, to serve in Congress.
After they had two children together, she married another man, Ahmed Nur Said Elmi. She later had a third child with Hirsi.
The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board fined Omar earlier this year for using campaign funds to pay a tax lawyer hired to amend joint tax returns she had filed with Hirsi at a time when she was still legally married to Elmi.
This again raised questions about her marriage to Elmi and whether it was sincere or some effort to help Elmi's immigration status, or even whether Elmi is her brother. She has denied Elmi is her brother but declined to answer any questions about the circumstances of their brief marriage.
Omar is a Minneapolis resident and first-term Democrat from the Fifth Congressional District who has rocketed to international fame as part of a coterie of younger women lawmakers who have confronted Trump, particularly on issues such as immigration and race.
In July, Trump said Omar and other three other Democratic congresswomen, all women of color, should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." Only Omar was actually born outside the United States; she arrived here as a young girl from a refugee camp in Kenya.
Trump has continued to try to make Omar and her colleagues the face of the Democratic Party.
Although Omar's marriages have proved controversial, divorce is not uncommon in Congress. Several other Minnesota politicians have seen their marriages end while in office in recent decades, including U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, former U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and the late former Sen. Rod Grams.
Libor Jany contributed to this report.