Minnesota U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s campaign continues to work with a political firm founded by a longtime consultant she recently married, campaign finance filings show.
The Democratic congresswoman’s campaign paid E Street Group, a firm founded by her husband, Tim Mynett, $292,000 for advertising, fundraising, travel and other services between January and March of this year, according to a federal campaign finance report filed Wednesday.
The law doesn’t prohibit hiring a spouse for a federal campaign and it’s not unheard of for candidates and members of Congress to employ and pay relatives through their committees. Minnesota U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, for example, has hired his son as campaign treasurer.
Omar’s relationship with Mynett and his firm attracted scrutiny in August 2019, after Mynett’s wife alleged that the consultant was having an affair with the congresswoman. The claim prompted a conservative group to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission questioning whether the payments were for personal, not professional, travel. The FEC has not taken any public action in response to the complaint.
An attorney representing both Omar and Mynett said any suggestion the campaign and firm “acted to skirt the law in any way is absolutely false, and completely unfounded.” Both Omar and Mynett denied the affair at the time.
Omar’s campaign continued its business relationship with the firm following that fallout, paying E Street more than $500,000 in 2019. The congresswoman announced on social media in March that she and Mynett had married. Both had finalized divorces with their respective spouses in late 2019.
Omar defended the business relationship in a series of tweets last month, saying the campaign pays fair market value for the firm’s services. She first hired the group, which previously worked for Attorney General Keith Ellison, during her 2018 run for Congress.
“My relationship with Tim began long after this work started. We consulted with a top FEC campaign attorney to ensure there were no possible legal issues with our relationship. We were told this is not uncommon and that no, there weren’t,” she tweeted. “As a family, we are committed to the practice of joy, compassion and love in our politics. And we are giving ourselves the permission to be happy and hope others will as well.”
Omar’s national profile has translated into fundraising prowess. The freshman Democrat took in more than $400,000 in the first three months of 2020, ending March with more than $1.3 million for her re-election bid. She has attracted a number of DFL and GOP challengers. The closest fundraising haul in the DFL primary contest was posted by attorney Antone Melton-Meaux, who raised about $209,000 and ended the quarter with $199,000 in the bank.
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