Ilhan Omar responded to the straightforward questions I raised about her marital situation with a stonewall thrown up by Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Jean Brandl. Brandl provided me the Omar campaign’s classic nonresponse response to my questions with the imputation of bigotry thrown in for good measure. I thought the questions deserved a straightforward answer and was intrigued by the immediate appearance of a criminal defense attorney to respond to me. Hmmmm, I thought. What could account for that?
After reporters from the Star Tribune (Patrick Coolican) and KMSP 9 (Tom Lyden) and KARE 11 (John Croman) got on the case, the stonewalling continued in some fashion through three different campaign spokesman. The Omar campaign has steadfastly refused to produce Omar or her husband for an interview. Hmmmm, I thought. What could account for that?
When Coolican called me for a statement earlier this week, he told me that the campaign denied that Omar’s legal husband (not “the love of her life” in last night’s campaign statement) is her brother. Okay, I thought. Who is he, I asked Coolican “They won’t tell me,” he said. Hmmmm, I thought. What could account for that?
Now in crisis mode, the campaign relased a carefully crafted statement clearly intended to give the local media an excuse for letting it be the last word on the story. It presents itself as the last word on the story so that Omar herself won’t have to answer further questions. The statement nevertheless leaves a few questions unanswered.
A knowledgeable immigration attorney has forwarded a set of questions that occur to him as a concerned citizen:
Let’s assume (for the sake of argument) that we take Ms. Omar at her word. Based on her description, she has a cultural/faith tradition husband (2002-2008, then again in 2011 to present) and a legal husband (2009 to present).
There are still these questions – apart from the possible familial relationship of her legal husband:
1. Which faith leader presided over her faith tradition marriage in 2002?
2. Is there written documentation of this?
3. Which faith leader presided over her faith tradition divorce in 2008?
4. Is there written documentation of this?
5. How was custody handled for the children after her faith tradition divorce in 2008?
6. Was there documentation of this?
7. How did she meet her legal husband?
8. Did she sponsor her legal husband for a green card?
9. Did he use his green card status to receive financial assistance to attend university in the US?
10. Is her legal husband a US citizen now as he has now been married to a US citizen (Ms. Omar) for 6 years? (Query – Are there voter registration or other documents that could be checked to substantiate this? The UK does allow dual citizenship.)
11. If Ms. Omar did sponsor her legal husband for a green card, then she was required to complete an I-864 affidavit of support documenting financial sponsorship of the husband. At the time in 2009 I believe she was a student and had 3 children so she would not likely have had the financial means to meet the I-864 obligations at the time and would therefore need a joint financial sponsor. Who was that joint financial sponsor? It would need to be a US citizen or green card holder with appropriate income or assets.
12. It has been reported that her legal husband was living in government subsidized housing in Minneapolis. This is likely inconsistent with the requirements of I-864 financial sponsorship. Does Hennepin County do anything to verify financial sponsorship before providing government assistance and subsidies for housing? Does Hennepin County now have a claim for reimbursement against Ms. Omar and/or the joint financial sponsor?
13. She is now remarried to her cultural husband according to her statement. Who was the faith leader who presided over this remarriage? Is there written documentation of this?
14. What Islamic doctrine was used to allow Ms. Omar to divorce a man, then marry someone else, and then remarry the first man?
15. There is no dispute based on her statement that she is currently in a cultural/faith tradition marriage with one man while still being legally married to another man. What Islamic doctrine permits this? I am familiar with certain Muslim traditions that allow a man to have more than one wife but I have never heard of a doctrine that permits a wife to have more than one husband which is without dispute what she is saying her situation is now.
I’m still waiting for an answer to my question whether Omar has a brother by the name of her legal husband. It’s a simple question. The campaign, however, has chosen not to respond to my inqurity on that. Maybe I’m offbase asking it. Maybe there’s nothing more to the story. Somehow I doubt it, but I don’t know.
I think these are all good questions under the circumstances. I would guess, however, that the Omar campaign will be spared the trouble of avoiding answers to the questions above.