The Omar campaign speaks, sort of

The campaign of Ilhan Omar has engaged Ben Goldfarb to respond to the local media raising inquiries following up on my post of this past Friday on Ilhan Omar’s marriage licenses. Read about Goldfarb here. Omar herself isn’t talking.

This past Friday, before posting anything on Power Line, I asked the Omar campaign to clarify the facts. Instead, the campaign not very subtly attacked my motives.

Patrick Coolican now reports the story for the Star Tribune. KMSP 9 also reports the story here. It all makes perfect sense in an alternate universe. As KMSP frankly notes up front: “[Omar is] now facing a slew of questions, and not giving a lot of answers, about marriage certificates and the identity of her legal husband.”

Let me sum it up this way. Omar denies she ever married the man behind door number 1 in 2002. The 2002 marriage certificate issued to them has been sent down the memory hole (along with the original Somalispot post discussing Omar’s marriage licenses and the Google cache version of the post). Someone is working hard behind the scenes to preserve Omar’s “historic” victory.

Omar states that she married the man behind door number 2 in 2009. The marrigae certificate issued to them in 2009 was fully executed. The man named on it is her legal husband — he is not her brother. Neither is he the man she holds out as her husband on her campaign site, nor is he the father of her children. She’s not saying anything more about the man she married in 2009 and remains married to today. Beyond denying that he is her brother — a denial she and her campaign failed to offer me — they’re not saying anything.

The man held out as her husband and the father of her children by Omar’s campaign site is none of the above, even though he appeaars to have been in the picture somewhere for quite a while.

Here is the heart of the KMSP 9 story:

In 2002, Omar, then just 19, swore out a marriage license with a man named Ahmed Aden. They write that they were married by the Muslim Church, but were having trouble getting housing and insurance. Hennepin County has no marriage certificate or final record that legalized the marriage.

Then, in 2009, she at least on paper legally marries a man by the name of Ahmed Nur Said Elmi. The conservative Power Line blog alleges that this is her brother — a potential sham marriage to help the brother with immigration into the United States. Fox 9 cannot independently confirm the allegation.

In recent interviews, Ilhan Omar has said her husband is a third man — Ahmed Hirsi — the father of the couple’s 3 children. We could not find any divorce records in Ilhan Omar’s name in Minnesota. As for the man she publicly refers to as her husband, one source in the community tells Fox 9 that Ilhan Omar’s current marriage is what you would call a “traditional” or “community” marriage — one not necessarily legalized with paperwork at the county or state level[.]”

While Ilhan Omar’s campaign wouldn’t provide any documentation or explanation for the marriage licenses on file, they did release a statement calling the rumors about her personal life “absurd” and “false.”

Here is the heart of Coolican’s Star Tribune story:

Hennepin County marital records show Omar applied for a marriage license in 2002 but never executed it. It was not immediately known who she planned to marry with that application. Seven years later, Omar married Ahmed Nur Said Elmi in Eden Prairie, according to their marriage record. Elmi could not be reached for comment. Minnesota courts have no records of Omar and Elmi ever filing for divorce.

Her campaign flatly denied that Elmi is her brother. They would only say that she and Ahmed Hirsi, who is pictured in campaign literature and the father of their three children, are together and raising a family. The Star Tribune could not find records in Minnesota showing that the two ever married.

Her campaign website reads: “Ilhan, her husband and three children live in the West Bank neighborhood of District 60B.”

The most recent voter registration records show Omar and Hirsi living at the same West Bank address.

“Like a lot of families, she and Hirsi, the father of their three children, have had ups and downs, have weathered some storms, but what matters is that they came out of it together,” Goldfarb said. He declined to offer more details.

The campaign would not make either Omar or Hirsi available for comment, releasing a statement from Omar instead: “A number of baseless, absurd rumors that don’t bear repeating have been made recently about my personal life and family. Let me be clear: they are categorically false.”

The statement goes on to decry “(Donald) Trump-style misogyny, racism, anti-immigration rhetoric and Islamophobic division.”

“Despite the best efforts of those who wish to divide us and stand in the way of progress, rest assured that petty rumors like these will not distract me from the important work that lies ahead for our communities.”

Here’s what I had to say to Coolican:

Scott Johnson, a writer at PowerLine, said the campaign’s response leaves many unanswered questions.

“Neither Ilhan Omar nor her campaign has offered an explanation for what is going on here,” he said. “The voters of Omar’s district deserve a straight answer to a simple question. Now, they have failed to provide one either to me or to the Star Tribune.”

I spoke with Coolican via Twitter and on the phone this afternoon. I have appreciated his courtesies while he was working on this story.

The Omar campaign appears to me to be attempting to thread some kind of a needle regarding legal issues while remaining on the attack. The performance so far is poor to fair but the degree of difficulty must be judged high.

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