Politics

Ilhan Omar Accused of Misusing Campaign Cash for Divorce Lawyer

DFL endorsee to replace Rep. Keith Ellison would be first Muslim congresswoman

An attorney for DFL House candidate Ilhan Omar called accusations that her client used campaign funds for her divorce proceeding “absolutely false.” (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images file photo)

A fellow state legislator has accused the Democratic-Farmer-Laborer endorsee to replace outgoing Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota of illegally misusing campaign funds to pay her divorce lawyer.

Ilhan Omar, who earned the state party’s endorsement for Minnesota’s 5th District in June, paid $2,250 in legal fees in 2016 to Kjellberg Law Office, a firm specializing in family and divorce law.

Republican state Rep. Steve Drazkowski filed a complaint with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board over the payment, multiple outlets in the state reported Tuesday.

But Carla Kjellberg, Omar’s attorney and the owner of the firm in question, denied the accusations against her client.

“That’s absolutely false,” Kjellberg told the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “I provided legal services for crisis management prior to that, and those funds were for reimbursements for costs on crisis management.”

Omar also issued a statement denying the allegations, adding that she “[looks] forward to working with the Representative, as a member of Congress, on behalf of all Minnesotans,” the Star-Tribune reported.

If elected to replace Ellison, who is leaving Congress and running for Minnesota attorney general, Omar would become the first Muslim congresswoman — and she’d be replacing the first Muslim congressman. Omar already broke one barrier in 2016 when she became the first Somali-born state legislator in the U.S.

The board reviewing Drazkowski’s complaint cannot confirm whether it is reviewing Omar for possible misuse of campaign funds unless compelling evidence emerges to produce findings.

The state board’s review process is similar to the Office of Congressional Ethics’ policies for requests to review possible ethics violations by members of the U.S. House.

Drazkowski has accused Omar of having a poor campaign finance record that includes at least $2,000 in fines for failing to fill out certain forms of economic interest and submitting two campaign contribution reports late.

“It continues to show really a worrisome pattern,” he said, calling Omar’s pattern of looseness with her campaign finances “very unusual.”

If Omar emerges from the August 14 primary against a crowded field of DFL candidates, she’s almost assured to win the seat, which represents one of the most liberal districts in the nation.

Early voting for the 5th-District primary began in late June. Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzales rates the race Solid Democratic.

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