Republican lawmakers in the House introduced legislation last week dubbed the OMAR Act to address the circumstances surrounding Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) paying her husband’s consulting firm $2.8 million during her campaign for a House seat.
Conservative congressmembers filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and now hope to prohibit enriching relatives through the campaigning process.
“For too long, lawmakers of both political parties have engaged in the ethically dubious practice of pocketing campaign funds by ‘hiring’ their spouses and laundering the money as campaign-related expenses,” Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI) said in a statement.
The Washington Times reported on the bill:
[Omar] told supporters after the election that she would cut ties with E Street Group, headed by her husband Tim Mynett, to avoid any “perceived issue,” but the sponsors of the legislation said that the problem is bigger than any single candidate.
The Oversight for Members and Relatives Act would prohibit candidates for federal office from compensating spouses who work on campaigns and require disclosure of any direct or indirect payments made to spouses or immediate family members, including children, parents, siblings and in-laws.
At least two top Democrats could be predisposed to support the measure: A similar measure sponsored by Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat, was approved by the House in 2007 with the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Schiff said in a 2007 press release that candidates “run for federal office to serve the public, not to financially profit from the campaign.”
“There have been too many reports of corruption and abuse in Congress over the last few years, and the passage of this bill with bipartisan support marks an important step forward in restoring the public’s confidence that elected officials are working in the public’s interest and not their own,” Schiff said at the time. “Candidates run for federal office to serve the public, not to financially profit from the campaign.”
Tiffany said the OMAR Act was indeed based on Schiff’s Campaign Expenditure Transparency Act.
“It is outrageous and inappropriate for Members of Congress to convert campaign donations to personal funds in this way,” Tiffany said. “It feeds public perceptions of corruption, undermines public trust in Congress, and must come to an end.”
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) called what Omar and others have done “despicable.”
“Loopholes that allow members of Congress to funnel campaign funds to their spouses are despicable and erode trust in our government,” Gallagher said. “There’s simply no logical reason for allowing this practice to continue, and I’m proud to join Rep. Tiffany in this common-sense effort to ensure members can’t profit off running for Congress.”
The Times reported:
A 2013 analysis by USA Today found that 32 members of Congress had doled out more than $2 million to relatives who staffed their campaigns in the 2012 election. One of the biggest recipients was the wife of Rep. Bobby Rush, Illinois Democrat, who received $147,549 in the 2012 cycle, an order of magnitude less than the $2.8 million Mr. Mynett’s company was paid for its work on the Omar campaign, as reported Nov. 10 by Fox News.
Omar defended paying her husband’s company for their work on “media services” during her campaign.
“Every dollar that was spent went to a team of more than 20 that were helping us fight back against attacks and organize on the ground and online in a COVID-19 world. And Tim — beyond his salary at the firm — received no profit whatsoever from the consulting relationship the firm provided,” Omar said in an email obtained by the Associated Press.
People magazine reported on Omar’s former husband and her marriage to Mynett shortly after being divorced:
A spokesman for Omar confirmed to PEOPLE that Omar, 38, married Tim Mynett. According to NBC News, Mynett is a political consultant with the firm E Street Group, which has previously worked with Omar’s campaign.
She and her ex-husband Hirsi share three children. The congresswoman filed for divorce from Hirsi in early October and the split was finalized in early November, according to the Associated Press.
“They were married Islamically and legally,” a spokesperson for the congresswoman told People.
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter or send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.