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Monday, August 3, 2020

Ilhan Omar has paid new husband’s consulting firm $878,000, filings show

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WASHINGTON — Rep. Ilhan Omar has continued quietly funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to her new husband’s consulting film, including a $189,000 windfall in March — just weeks after they announced they had tied the knot, campaign data shows.

The payments between the Minneapolis Democratic congresswoman and Tim Mynett prompted at least one ethics complaint in 2019 after The Post first revealed allegations Omar was having an affair with the member of her political consulting team, who was at the time married to another woman. Omar was married to her second husband at the time.

But that doesn’t appear to have stopped the now-married couple, with Mynett’s E Street Group collecting $292,814.99 from his wife’s campaign this year for digital advertising, fundraising consulting and research services, according to the Federal Election Commission filings.

In total, Mynett has received a whopping $878,930.65 from Omar’s campaign since he began working for her in 2018, raising eyebrows among watchdogs and political law experts who say the practice is rife with cronyism.

The majority of those payments were made after the Somali-born lawmaker’s victory in the solidly Democratic seat at the November 2018 midterm elections.

Omar is by far the E Street Group’s biggest client, according to Open Secrets data, with nearly one in every three of Omar’s campaign dollars going to her alleged lover’s firm as of last August, according to the Washington Examiner.

The FEC allows lawmakers to hire family members or spouses to work on their campaigns, making the arrangement technically aboveboard, but multiple political experts told The Post Tuesday they believe the practice should be outlawed.

“It should not be allowed,” said attorney Richard W. Painter, who served as chief ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush White House.

“I think it’s a horrible idea to allow it, given the amount of money that goes into these campaigns from special interests,” he continued.

Now a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Law School in Omar’s hometown, Painter said star candidates in safe seats who raked in millions of dollars in campaign donations had the ability to enrich themselves and their families.

“We already have enough problems with gifts to campaigns as a quid pro quo for political action,” he said.

The congresswoman’s office and the E Street Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The 37-year-old mom of three vehemently denied allegations that she and Mynett were romantically involved after Mynett’s wife accused him of dumping her for the US representative in divorce filings obtained by The Post in August 2019.

By September, Omar and Mynett were repeatedly photographed in broad daylight leaving the same Washington, DC, residence and the firebrand lawmaker eventually filed for divorce from her own husband in October.

In the divorce filings, Beth Mynett said her then-husband claimed his business was “floundering” and that he was “nearly broke,” raising furthers questions about his six-figure payday from his new wife.

“There’s a long line of abuses in this regard where members of Congress will hire family members and pay their family members to do ‘campaign work’ in order to supplement the family income,” said Cleta Mitchell, an expert in political law in DC.

Tim Mynett and Ilhan Omar

If the FEC does decide to investigate, the onus will be on Omar and Mynett to prove that the campaign is paying him a reasonable market-based rate and that the arrangement is “not a pretext to fluff up their income,” said Mitchell, a partner at Foley & Lardner.

“It’s not a good practice,” she added.

In a series of tweets in March after her third wedding, Omar defended herself against claims of impropriety and attacked the media for “amplifying baseless claims” and “misinformation of rightwing Twitter.”

“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 wrote.

“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.”

Read More at NYPost

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