MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There are three weeks to go before one of the most closely-watched congressional primaries in the country.
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is facing a challenge from fellow Democrat Antone Melton-Meaux — and a new TV ad making serious claims against her.
A pro-Israel super PAC called Americans for Tomorrow’s Future has pumped $165,615 into this anti-Omar ad:
Real leadership is selfless. Ilhan Omar puts herself first. Omar used campaign funds to fix her personal tax returns. She denied it. But her own lawyer said it was true. Omar also used her campaign account for personal travel and paid a fine for it. And she paid her new husband’s business over a million dollars in campaign funds. That’s not selfless. It’s self dealing. Americans for Tomorrow’s Future is responsible for the content of this ad.
The ad accurately cites Omar mishandling small amounts of state legislative campaign funds, for which she paid a $500 fine.
It also makes this explosive claim: “And she’s paid her new husband’s business over a million dollars in campaign funds.”
This is true. Since 2018, federal records show Omar’s campaign paid $1,107,012 to the Washington consultants E Street Group, owned by Tim Mynett.
His then-wife said in divorce papers last year that he ditched her for Omar, who was also married.
It is an affair Omar denied last August in a WCCO interview.
“No, I am not [separated from my husband], and … I have no interest in allowing the conversation about my personal life to continue, and I have no desire to discuss it,” Omar said.
The million dollars from her campaign to her now-husband’s consulting group includes $417,243 since the month they married.
Consultant fees are some of the top expenses of most campaigns, but watchdog groups say using campaign funds to pay family members is questionable, even if it’s not illegal.
Omar is a popular national figure, and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress. She is also sometimes controversial; apologizing twice for tweets and comments considered anti-Semitic.
Omar’s campaign calls the ad from this pro-Israel super PAC “a smear.”
Americans for Tomorrow’s Future is a pro-Israel Super PAC. Some of its donors give heavily to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, although a number of AFTF donors also give to Republicans and Democrats alike. AFTF says it supports Democrats and Republicans who it considers pro-Israel.
According to an AFTF spokesman, “Americans for Tomorrow’s Future is an independent, bipartisan organization with no organizational links to any political party or partisan organization. We support the election of Democratic, Republican and Independent candidates to federal office who advance America’s positive role in the world, including through support for America’s strategic alliance with Israel. Our contributors span the political spectrum, and many equally dedicate political donations to candidates on both sides of the aisle.”
Here are some of the sources we used for this edition of Reality Check: