A group of Republican state senators on Tuesday filed an ethics complaint against DFL Sen. Omar Fateh over legislation that would have given $500,000 to a local Somali broadcast company that endorsed his 2020 campaign.
The complaint also is seeking review of Fateh's ties to a federal election fraud investigation that yielded a pair of criminal convictions this month against his brother-in-law, who also served as a campaign volunteer.
"Minnesotans place their trust in elected officials to direct state policy and state spending. It's an immense responsibility and we owe it to the citizens of Minnesota to conduct ourselves with the highest level of integrity and transparency," read a joint statement by the seven senators. "Unfortunately, what we have recently learned regarding Senator Omar Fateh has raised questions about legislation he has sponsored at the Senate and the conduct of the primary election that elevated him to the Minnesota Senate."
Fateh did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Senate DFL leaders — led by Minority Leader Melisa López Franzen, DFL-Edina — issued a statement welcoming the ethics probe into the recent news reports.
"The Senate DFL Caucus welcomes scrutiny when credible information presents itself, even if or when it involves one of our members," the statement read. "We have confidence that our Senate colleagues on the Ethics Committee will conduct a fair, bipartisan inquiry."
The Minnesota Reformer reported this month that Fateh, a self-described Democratic Socialist from Minneapolis who unseated veteran DFL Sen. Jeff Hayden in 2020, carried legislation last year that would have given $500,000 in state funding to the Somali TV YouTube channel. The same entity backed his 2020 campaign to unseat Hayden by running multiple ads encouraging viewers to vote for Fateh.
The bill did not pass out of the GOP-led Senate. Now Republicans are asking the legislative Subcommittee on Ethical Conduct to examine whether Fateh sponsored legislation that would have benefited a commercial entity that had delivered an in-kind contribution with a campaign ad.
The GOP senators also want the committee to examine Fateh's ties to a federal voting fraud investigation that led to the conviction of brother-in-law Muse Mohamud Mohamed, who served as a volunteer for Fateh's campaign.
"Our campaign's mission has always been to motivate and organize the people of our district to participate in elections," Fateh said in a written statement earlier this month. "In doing so, we are committed to upholding our state's election laws and processes. I am troubled by this conviction. I am more committed than ever to organizing and governing to strengthen a fair and free democracy."
The Republicans who filed the complaint are Sens. Mark Koran, R-North Branch; Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks; Justin Eichorn, R-Grand Rapids; Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson; Andrew Mathews, R-Princeton; Mike Goggin, R-Red Wing; and John Jasinski, R-Faribault.
The Subcommittee on Ethical Conduct is chaired by Senate President David Osmek, R-Mound, and is made up of two members from each party. It must meet to review the complaint against Fateh within 30 days.