In a move certain to disappoint right-wing conspiracy theorists, the Federal Election Commission ruled in a rare unanimous decision this week that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) did not, in fact, use campaign cash to help fund her affair with a Democratic consultant she eventually married.
The ruling tossed a complaint that right-leaning think tank National Legal & Policy Center brought in 2019, alleging that Omar converted donor money to personal use by paying travel costs for campaign consultant Tim Mynett, whom Omar married in 2020.
“If Ilhan for Congress reimbursed Mynett’s LLC for travel so that Rep. Omar would have the benefit of Mynett’s romantic companionship, the expenses must be considered personal in nature,” the original complaint alleged.
The campaign’s response blasted the allegation, which, campaign lawyers wrote, “fails to cite even one potential violation.” The claims, they said, were “based on rank speculation,” and nothing more than “a veiled attempt to harass the Congresswoman” in order “to create an additional press story.”
The complaint had been predicated nearly entirely on a line in a divorce court filing from Mynett’s ex-wife, which claimed that his “more recent travel and long work hours now appear to be more related to his affair with Rep. Omar than his actual work commitments.”
While the FEC absolved Omar of the legal charges, the commission did instruct her to work with the agency to correct her reports from the time “as needed.”
But the complainant was not the only person to seize on the payments. News organizations noted the campaign payments in their coverage of the affair with Mynett, and their later marriage, and some conservatives smelled blood.
“It looks like on the surface that she used campaign finance funds to benefit her paramour,” Tom Fitton, head of conservative watchdog Judicial Watch, told The New York Post in 2019.
“This would be par for the course for Ilhan Omar,” Fitton said.
Omar’s love life has long been a point of obsession for fringe personalities on the right, who have alleged falsely and persistently—for years—that Omar, a Somali refugee and the first naturalized African in Congress, had previously married her brother so he could get a green card.
She has also been the target of relentless anti-Muslim vitriol, most recently from congressional colleagues, including Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who called her a jihadist multiple times.
But in the campaign finance world, it was a good week for the Muslim members of the progressive House group known as “the Squad.” The FEC also absolved Omar ally Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) of the same allegation.
The complaint against Tlaib was also filed in 2019. Earlier that year, Tlaib and Omar were sworn in as the first two Muslim-American women elected to Congress.