A state lawmaker filed a complaint against fellow Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, accusing her of using campaign money to pay her divorce lawyer’s legal fees in violation of state law.
Republican Rep. Steve Drazkowski recently filed the complaint about Omar, a Minneapolis Democrat who is running for U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison’s open congressional seat.
Drazkowski questioned a $2,250 payment she made in Nov. 2016 to Kjellberg Law Office for legal fees. The firm, which specializes in family law and divorce cases, handled Omar’s 2017 divorce.
Omar’s attorney, who owns the firm, denied the allegation.
“That’s absolutely false, I provided legal services for crisis management prior to that, and those funds were for reimbursements for costs on crisis management,” attorney Carla Kjellberg said.
In a statement, Omar said the allegation is false. “I look forward to working with the Representative, as a member of Congress, on behalf of all Minnesotans,” she said.
Drazkowski, of Mazeppa, submitted the complaint to the state’s Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. Jeff Sigurdson, the board’s director, said the board’s policy does not allow him to even confirm a complaint was filed until it’s resolved or there are findings.
The general process for handling complaints is to first determine whether the complaint is under the board’s jurisdiction and whether there is some basis to believe the violation occurred, he said.
Then the target of the complaint presents his or her side and the board decides if a formal investigation is needed. The process could take up to several months if there is an investigation, Sigurdson said.
Drazkowski said Omar has a history of campaign finance violations. She accrued $1,100 in fines after failing to file a statement of economic interest until last month, nearly five months after it was due. She was also fined $1,000 in May 2017 after filing a different campaign contribution report late, as well as facing a $150 fine for a late filing in November 2017.
“It continues to show really a worrisome pattern,” he said, adding that the number of campaign finance violations is “very unusual.”
Jessie Van Berkel • 651-925-5044