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Tipsheet

Investigation Into Omar's Campaign Finances Reveals Another Issue

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) recently came under fire for using campaign finances to pay for using campaign money to travel to Florida to accept an honorarium. She was ordered to repay her campaign $3,500 as well as a $500 civil penalty to the State of Minnesota. It turns out that investigation also revealed Omar illegally filed joint tax returns with her current husband, despite being married to another man, the Associated Press reported.

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From the AP:

Q: What did Omar do wrong?

A: The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board said Thursday that Omar and her husband, Ahmed Abdisalan Hirsi, filed joint tax returns for 2014 and 2015 — before they were actually married and while Omar was legally wed to another man. While some states allow for joint filing for “common law” marriages, Minnesota does not, and filing joint tax returns with someone who is not your legal spouse is against both federal and state law.

...

According to marriage records, Omar applied for a license in 2002 to marry her current husband, Ahmed Abdisalan Hirsi, who Omar says went by Ahmed Abdisalan Aden at the time. A marriage certificate wasn’t issued and Omar has said they didn’t pursue a civil marriage but instead married in their Muslim faith tradition. Omar and Hirsi had two children, but ended their relationship in 2008.

Omar then married Elmi, whom she said is a British citizen, in 2009, according to a marriage certificate. Omar said that relationship ended in 2011 and the two divorced in their faith tradition, but Omar didn’t take legal action to divorce him until 2017. Divorce records say Omar and Hirsi reunited and had a third child together in June 2012. Omar legally married Hirsi in early 2018, a month after her divorce from Elmi was finalized.

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The investigation into her finances began last year after she was accused of using $2,250 of campaign money for divorce proceedings. The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board launched an investigation, found that accusation to be false but said other irregularities took place. 

Although filing a joint tax return when two people aren't legally married violates both federal and Minnesota state law, it doesn't look as though Omar's facing criminal charges. The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board has the authority to refer the case to county prosecutors but they didn't. And, according to The Hill, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rarely makes cases like this a criminal matter.

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