Omar's joint tax filings draw scrutiny

Omar's joint tax filings draw scrutiny
© Greg Nash

A Minnesota campaign finance board’s investigation into Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarWorld Jewish Congress condemns Tlaib for suggesting boycott of Bill Maher's show A lesson of the Trump, Tlaib, Omar, Netanyahu affair Tlaib suggests boycotting Maher show after he calls anti-Israel boycott movement 'bulls--- purity test' MORE's (D-Minn.) apparent misuse of campaign funds has placed new scrutiny on the freshman representative’s personal tax filings and marital past.

The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board last week ordered Omar to repay her state House campaign committee nearly $3,500 in funds used in violation of law, as well as pay to the state a $500 civil penalty.

But the report issued by the board also revealed that Omar and her current husband Ahmed Hirsi filed joint tax returns in 2014 and 2015, while Omar was still legally married to another man, Ahmed Nur Said Elmi.

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The revelation has become a topic of media interest and is likely to become a point of criticism for conservatives who have raised questions about Omar’s past, including some who have floated conspiracy theories about the Minnesota Democrat’s marital history.

Omar and Hirsi first became engaged in 2002. They never legally married, but had two children together before separating in 2008. She married Elmi in 2009 and she said the two obtained divorce in their Muslim faith tradition — albeit not a legal one — in 2011.

Omar and Hirsi reconciled after that and had a third child together in 2012. She filed to divorce Elmi in 2017, and legally married Hirsi in 2018.

At issue were her joint tax filings with Hirsi in 2014 and 2015, which were filed when she was still married to Elmi.

Part of the $3,500 that Omar was ordered by campaign finance officials to repay includes a $1,500 payment to an accounting firm for services related to the joint tax filings, according to the board’s report. Most of the misused funds relate to travel costs.

While filing a joint tax return where no legal marriage exists violates both federal and state law, there are no signs that the discrepancy is being treated as a criminal matter. The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board never referred the tax case to county prosecutors and the IRS rarely treats such cases as criminal matters.

Omar has agreed to repay the campaign money, as well as pay the $500 penalty. In a statement to The Associated Press, her campaign said that “all of Rep. Omar’s tax filings are fully compliant with all applicable tax law.”