U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar has told supporters that her campaign is no longer doing business with her husband’s political consulting firm, a connection that had previously sparked scrutiny and complaints to campaign finance watchdogs.
In an e-mail late Sunday, Omar said her campaign was terminating its contract with the firm to “make sure that anybody who is supporting our campaign with their time or financial support feels there is no perceived issue with that support.”
The Federal Election Commission has taken no public action in response to a complaint last year from a conservative group that alleged money from Omar’s campaign paid to now-husband Tim Mynett and his E Street Group LLC for personal travel expenses.
Beyond being able to point to Omar as a high-profile client, the contract was a lucrative one for the E Street Group: Omar’s campaign reported paying the firm more than $1.1 million for advertising and consulting in the third quarter of this year alone — transactions that Omar has defended as legitimate. The firm’s leadership has also previously said that much of the advertising expenses are transferred to other vendors.
“Every dollar that was spent went to a team of more than twenty that were helping us fight back against attacks and organize on the ground and online in a COVID-19 world,” Omar wrote. “And Tim — beyond his salary at the firm — received no profit whatsoever from the consulting relationship the firm provided.”
E Street Group LLC declined to comment for this story.
Omar stopped short of adequately addressing concerns about how the money was spent by E Street Group, said Thomas Anderson, a spokesman for the National Legal and Policy Center, the group that filed the initial complaint. “We feel Congresswoman Omar is attempting to clean up a mess we laid out in our complaint.”
Omar comfortably won re-election to the heavily Democratic Fifth Congressional District, defeating GOP challenger Lacy Johnson earlier this month. In August, Omar also earned a commanding victory against DFL primary challenger Antone Melton-Meaux, whose well-funded race incorporated jabs at controversies that included the connection to the E Street Group.
In her e-mail to supporters on Sunday, Omar acknowledged the scrutiny, likening “attacks” from President Donald Trump and the GOP to “talking points of our primary Democratic opponents.”
E Street Group was cofounded by Mynett and Will Hailer, both alumni of Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office when he represented the Fifth Congressional District. Omar, in Sunday’s e-mail, wrote that Hailer was one of the first people to reach out when Ellison announced his bid for state attorney general in 2018.
Omar and Mynett married in March, months after the two finalized divorces with previous spouses. Omar wrote Sunday that “we have found true happiness together. He is my light and is an incredible father to our blended family.”
“And while I won’t comment more on our personal life than that, I can assure you that every interaction our campaign had with the folks on his team, were allowed under federal law,” Omar said.
Omar described her political movement as “larger than one or two people, it’s about all of us collectively.”
“And because of that, you deserve to be a part of a movement that you can rely on, believe in, and know that it is holding itself to the highest possible standards,” she wrote.
In an April online essay, Hailer defended his firm’s work for Omar and described her importance on fundraising and voter turnout for progressive candidates nationwide.
Hailer wrote that Omar’s personal relationship with Mynett began “long after our work for Ilhan started” and that FEC rules allow for family members to work for campaigns so long as they provide “a bona fide service” and that payments reflected a fair market value of those services.