“Rep. Omar has not been forthright with the good people of Minnesota, plain and simple,” he said.
Omar told the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board that she filed joint tax returns in 2014 and 2015 with her current husband even though she was married at the time to another man. She was forced to pay back campaign money she used to pay a tax lawyer.
Her admission again raised questions about her first legal marriage and whether the man she married was actually her brother.J. Patrick Coolican, “State Rep. Steve Drazkowski continues battle with U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar“, Star Tribune, July 24, 2019
Suggesting she was being wrongly accused, Omar said in the deposition that the accountant’s task was “to say, hey, can you look at the last two forms for us to let us know if this is something we need to worry about?”
State officials asked Omar if she knew whether there were amendments filed to her taxes based on the accounting firm’s work.
“I don’t think so,” Omar answered before adding that she couldn’t “recall doing any.”Brian Bakst, MPR News, “Documents shed light on why Omar reviewed her tax returns“, June 13, 2019
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.Max Greenwood, “Omar’s joint tax filings draw scrutiny“, The Hill, June 11, 2019
5) Did Omar gain something by filing jointly?
It’s hard to say. In most situations, filing jointly may reduce taxes for married couples. But Eric Johnson, an attorney who practices tax law in St. Paul, Minnesota, said that’s not always the case and filing jointly might actually increase a tax bill for some.
Omar has so far kept her tax returns private. While she has called for President Donald Trump to release his tax returns, her campaign did not acknowledge the AP’s request to release hers. Her campaign also did not answer a question about whether there might be issues with other tax returns prior to Omar’s marriage to Hirsi in 2018.Associated Press, MPR News, “7 questions on Rep. Omar’s tax returns answered“, June 11, 2019
6) Is Omar now in trouble with the IRS?
That’s not clear. Jeff Sigurdson, executive director of the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, said that while the board has authority to refer matters to a county attorney if it discovers an issue, there were no referrals made in this case. Sigurdson said the board did not look into the legality of the joint tax returns, but only “whether it was appropriate to use committee funds to get a copy of them.” Sigurdson said the board never saw the returns in question.
It’s against the law in Minnesota to file jointly unless one filer is legally married to the other. Last year Omar told the Star Tribune that she had married her partner “in her faith,” and had earlier divorced her first husband “in her faith.” That’s fine for religious purposes. But for tax purposes, only civil marriages qualify. It’s not known whether she benefited materially by filing jointly. That is something that voters, who are obliged to follow tax laws no matter how painful, are entitled to know.
It’s not too much to expect that a lawmaker would check with a tax attorney on a rather complicated marital status before filing. And when questions arise, it’s a violation to use campaign funds to clear up those personal issues, as Omar apparently did. The Campaign Finance Board has ordered that she reimburse her campaign $3,469 for violations related to her tax returns and non-campaign travel costs. She must also pay a $500 civil penalty.
Omar is no stranger to controversy. As a new state House member, she collected $2,500 in speaking fees — $2,000 from Normandale Community College and $500 from Inver Hills Community College — for appearances made shortly after she took office. Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, who publicly noted that state law prohibits legislators from collecting such fees from groups that have business before the Legislature, made that public, and Omar returned the money. Drazkowski also filed the latest complaint. “It’s very clear there are huge ethical problems with Rep. Omar,” he told an editorial writer, adding that the House should consider an ethics investigation.(Minneapolis) Star Tribune, “Ilhan Omar’s credibility takes another hit“, June 11, 2019
I haven’t heard back from any of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s spokesmen in response to the basic questions I asked about her unlawful 2014 and 2015 tax returns — the ones she filed jointly with one man while married (assuming the marriage wasn’t void) to another. I’m trying not to take it personally. WCCO 4’s Esme Murphy didn’t fare any better than I did as she reported the story (segment [here]). Not talking in the face of guilty facts is Omar’s modus operandi and it’s worked like a charm for her so far. The segment concludes with Omar’s past denial that the man whom she married in 2009 is her brother, though (I note) she won’t talk about that either.Scott Johnson, “Omar Not Talking To WCCO Either“, Powerline, June 10, 2019
Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s personal tax returns are under a controversial light after marriage status complications. Her spokesperson says Omar complied with the law, Esme Murphy reports (3:09). WCCO 4 News at 6 — June 10, 2019