A conservative group filed a complaint Wednesday alleging that U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar illegally used campaign funds to pay travel expenses for the consultant whose wife has accused him of having an affair with the Minnesota Democrat.
The National Legal and Policy Center in Falls Church, Va., asserted in a complaint to the Federal Election Commission that Omar’s campaign paid Tim Mynett’s E Street Group thousands of dollars for travel while he and Omar were in a relationship.
On Wednesday afternoon, Washington lawyer David Mitrani, who is representing Omar’s campaign and E Street Group, issued a statement calling charges that Omar or E Street “acted to skirt the law in any way is absolutely false, and completely unfounded.”
The complaint is “nothing more than a political ploy … and just another example of the right wing’s attempts to ‘throw the kitchen sink’ at [Omar] and her allies,” Mitrani said.
In March, the same group filed an FEC complaint against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who like Omar is a member of the “Squad” of liberal House women of color.
Questions about Omar’s relationship with Mynett became public Tuesday in a divorce petition filed in Washington by Mynett’s wife, Dr. Beth Mynett.
“Defendant’s more recent travel and long work hours now appear to be more related to his affair with Rep. Omar than with his actual work commitments,” it said.
When asked Tuesday whether she had separated from her spouse and was dating anyone, Omar said, “No, I am not.”
The FEC complaint filed Wednesday charges Omar’s campaign with violating federal law that prohibits the use of campaign funds for travel-related personal expenses unless they are reimbursed.
Richard Painter, the former chief ethics lawyer in George W. Bush’s White House and a University of Minnesota law professor, said the issue is whether the Omar campaign’s payments to E Street Group were “fair compensation.”
The same question would apply if the campaign had paid an Omar relative, he said. “If I were the FEC I’d ask for backup material” to verify the expenditures’ validity, he said.
Painter noted that Omar’s campaign faced finance issues dating to her tenure in the Minnesota House. In June, she was ordered to reimburse her own campaign account more than $3,000 and pay a $500 fine for violating state regulations.
Tim Mynett is a partner at E Street Group in Washington and is the top political consultant for Omar’s campaign. He previously worked for Keith Ellison, now Minnesota’s attorney general, and other Democratic candidates.
Federal campaign finance reports show that Omar’s campaign paid E Street Group more than $220,000 between Aug. 9, 2018, and June 30 this year. In the first six months of 2019, the reports show payments of $21,546.94 to the company for travel.
Mitrani said that it is typical for campaign consultants to travel and there is nothing “untoward” or illegal about those payments. The complaint, he said, “is nothing more than blustering to attempt to create the appearance of legal jeopardy, when there is none.”
Omar tweeted an image Wednesday of a death threat mailed to the DFL Party before the Mynett issue surfaced. “I hate that we live in a world where you have to be protected from fellow humans,” she added.
The threat warned that her life will “end” at the Minnesota State Fair. Fair officials said in a statement that fairgoers are protected by “multiple law enforcement agencies and experts at every level.”
A spokesman for Omar said Wednesday that the threat was reported to law enforcement and that she visited the State Fair earlier but has no plans to return.