Omar campaign: tax filings are ‘fully compliant’

Ilhan Omar thanks her supporters after winning the District 60B seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives during an election party at the Courtyard Marriott in Minneapolis, Minn. on Tuesday November 8, 2016. Richard Marshall for MPR News

Minnesota U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s campaign says her tax filings are “fully compliant” with law, after questions were raised about an alleged joint tax filing with her husband while they weren’t legally married.

That detail emerged last week in an investigation by the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board into Omar’s use of campaign funds for personal, out-of-state travel. The board ruled a number of payments for airfare and hotels violated state rules that campaign funds should be used for campaign purposes, as well as a $1,500 payment to a law firm to correct an “issue” with Omar’s tax returns.

“The crisis committee had Frederick & Rosen prepare releases for Rep. Omar and Mr. Hirsi to sign in order for Frederick & Rosen to obtain Rep. Omar’s and Mr. Hirsi’s filed joint tax returns for 2014 and 2015,” the report read.

But at the time of those joint filings, Omar wasn’t legally married to her husband Ahmed Hirsi, the father of her three children. She was legally married to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, a British citizen she has said she married after temporarily separating from Hirsi.

Omar and Hirsi reunited in 2011, but at the time, Omar hadn’t legally divorced Elmi or married Hirsi, instead doing those ceremonies in their Muslim faith tradition. Omar legally divorced Elmi in 2017 and married Hirsi in 2018.

Minnesota couples can file joint federal tax returns only if they are legally married.

“All of Rep. Omar’s tax filings are fully compliant with all applicable tax law,” a campaign spokesperson said in a brief statement.

The campaign did not provide copies of Omar’s tax returns.

Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board Director Jeff Sigurdson said the joint return came up in testimony from Omar’s attorney and requesting any returns is “out of the scope” of the board’s investigation.

Omar has long been dogged by questions about her marriage. In 2016, Republican Rep. Steve Drazkowski accused Omar of using her campaign funds to pay for her divorce to Elmi, but the campaign finance board found that was not the case.

The board has ordered Omar to pay $3,469 to reimburse costs that violated state rules.

Omar’s attorney did not return a call seeking comment.

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