In 2018, I was excited to vote for Rep. Ilhan Omar. Like so many in Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District, I considered it a point of pride to continue our tradition of electing barrier-breaking representatives. I looked forward to Omar using her position to be an effective, prominent leader. I had such high hopes.
What a difference 15 months make. My pride is dashed. My hopes have become frustration, anger and despair, knowing that our district is disenfranchised, and for all intents and purposes, not represented.
I’m left to wonder: Who does Ilhan Omar work for? Because I just can’t see how she’s working for me or any of us.
Rep. Omar has the seventh-worst attendance record for missed votes among first-term representatives. From October to December last year, she missed more votes than 94% of Congress. That doesn’t work for us.
Omar had her first bill passed as part of a coronavirus relief package. While laudable, all of her other proposed bills have failed to go anywhere. That doesn’t work for us.
Rep. Omar has ignored much of her district, with numerous mayors and City Council members reporting they haven’t seen or heard from her since she took office. Meanwhile, she spent numerous weekends fundraising for her campaign in other states. And, she’s been to Africa three times, with one trip lasting over a week. That doesn’t work for us.
Omar refuses to talk to local media or host regular, open public meetings that any of her constituents can attend. That doesn’t work for us.
Omar has repeatedly made divisive statements that have been hurtful to members of our Jewish community. She creates distraction and drama, not results. That doesn’t work for us.
Rep. Omar believes that sanctions are economic warfare and is a vocal advocate for abolishing them, particularly for Iran. Yet she supports sanctions on Israel. She has repeatedly refused to explain this inconsistency. That doesn’t work for us.
Omar failed to condemn Armenian genocide when the overwhelming majority of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, voted to hold Turkey accountable for its atrocities. That doesn’t work for us.
Omar joined Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., in publicly insulting our party’s first female presidential nominee when she booed Hillary Clinton at an event in Iowa in January. That doesn’t work for us.
Omar voted against every other Minnesota Democrat on key trade bills that expand protections for workers and the environment because she says she only votes for perfect bills. That doesn’t work for us.
Omar announced on Instagram during President Donald Trump’s first prime time coronavirus address to the nation that she married her chief fundraiser, Tim Mynett, despite having repeatedly denied any romantic relationship. At the same time, Omar’s payments to Mynett’s firm, E Street Group, grew to more than $586,000 by the end of last year as questions over their personal relationship grew in frequency and legitimacy.
Omar was asked by WCCO-TV’s Esme Murphy in August 2019, whether she was dating Mr. Mynett. She said no. However, Mynett’s then-wife filed for divorce that same month, with Omar filing in October.
While Rep. Omar has the right to be married to whomever she chooses, she thinks voters don’t have the right to know when her relationship with Mynett began or why her spending with his firm has significantly increased. That doesn’t work for us.
Rep. Omar’s campaign has raised more than $2 million dollars, but less than $100,000 of her itemized contributions come from people in her district. That means more than 95% of her financial support comes from somewhere else.
Omar failed to find time to even visit all of her district, yet she found time to write an autobiography and travel around the country for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. She appears to be more focused on her own celebrity than on serving the district. That doesn’t work for us.
Omar complained that Sanders would have won our presidential primary if we still had the caucus system, arguing that fewer Minnesota voters would have been better for Bernie. Wanting fewer people to participate and be counted instead of more — that doesn’t work for us.
I want to work for the people of the Fifth District. That’s why I’m challenging Omar in the DFL primary in August. Because I want to work for us.
I will not miss votes. I will build productive relationships across our district. I will always vote in the interest and values of our district. I will not get into Twitter fights with President Trump or trade in tropes that are offensive and hurtful. When I’m not in D.C. I will be home in our district, working with people, making sure their voices are heard and critical issues are being addressed by proposing meaningful legislation that raises people up.
I will be the representative who works for us. I will be focused on the Fifth.
I call on Rep. Omar to commit to a series of public debates to defend her poor representation and lack of transparency and accountability to the people of our district and the residents of Minnesota. The voters deserve answers. They deserve to know they have a choice.
Antone Melton-Meaux, of Minneapolis, is an attorney and mediator, and a candidate for the DFL nomination for Congress in the Fifth District.