Since she was first elected to public office in November 2016, Ilhan Omar has rarely avoided the opportunity to talk for public consumption. We happened upon an exception to the rule back in 2016 in the course of Omar’s campaign for the Minnesota legislature when we learned of Omar’s then current marriage to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi. At the time she held out Ahmed Hirsi as her husband on her campaign site and elsewhere. We found that Omar had legally married Elmi in 2009 and wondered if he was her brother. Omar remained married to him from 2009 to 2017. Although Omar has three children with Hirsi, Omar never did marry him until last year.
When I asked Omar about all this by email in August 2016, she declined to respond in substance and implied that the question reflected bigotry on my part. “There are people who do not want an East African, Muslim woman elected to office and who will follow Donald Trump’s playbook to prevent it,” her campaign told me through a criminal lawyer. “Ilhan Omar’s campaign sees your superfluous contentions as one more in a series of attempts to discredit her candidacy.”
As the story blew up in the local media, Omar treated it as a public relations crisis. She brought in Democratic operative Ben Goldfarb to do the talking on her behalf. The campaign issued a statement that went back to the royal flush of bigotry accusations, decrying the “Trump-style misogyny, racism, anti-immigration rhetoric and Islamophobic division” allegedly motivating questions about her marital status. Omar herself refused then and since to answer questions about her marital history or even who Elmi is if not her brother.
Omar’s election to the Minnesota legislature made her an intergalactic superstar. It was Time for Ilhan, according to the documentary made about that race. Filmmaker Norah Shapiro was on to something. By the time the film was released, it was time for Ilhan to move on to Congress. She hasn’t shut up since.
When Omar refuses to talk, it’s unlike her. Her silence reflects an insoluble problem. This week she’s not talking. She’s not talking about the unlawful joint tax returns she filed with Hirsi…while married to Elmi.
This week it was revealed that Omar filed joint tax returns with Hirsi in 2014 and 2015. Today Star Tribune reporters Patrick Condon and Patrick Coolican get around to the story in “Rep. Ilhan Omar jointly filed tax returns prior to legal marriage.” Coolican covered the marriage story in 2016. Condon and Coolican reiterate the received version of her marital history according to Omar:
Omar said in an interview last year with the Star Tribune that she and Hirsi, both Muslims, were married in their faith tradition in 2002. They separated in 2008, a year before she legally married Elmi.
Omar said she and Elmi split in 2011, divorced “in our faith tradition,” and she reunited with Hirsi soon after. In a 2016 statement, Omar said she and Hirsi were married “in our faith tradition and are raising a family together.” Like all families, she continued, “we have had our ups and downs but we are proud to have come through it together.”
But according to public records, Elmi and Omar’s divorce was not finalized until 2017, and she and Hirsi did not legally wed until January 2018.
Omar was first forced to address her marital history when she was running for the Legislature in 2016. She faced allegations published by a conservative blog [i.e., Power Line] that Elmi is her brother, and that she married him so he could obtain legal immigration status.
Omar called the allegations “absolutely false and ridiculous.”
Here the joint tax returns enter the story:
[P]art of the legal payments at issue in the Campaign Finance Board’s investigation stem from inquiries into Omar’s financial records by a “crisis committee” that her campaign formed at that time [in 2016] to respond to the allegations about her and Elmi.
Carla Kjellberg, an attorney doing legal work for Omar and her campaign, was part of the crisis committee. “Ms. Kjellberg and some in the crisis committee believed that the allegations required a response and that they needed to see what was in Rep. Omar’s immigration and financial records in order to prepare that response,” the campaign board’s report states.
Shortly after that, the report says, the St. Louis Park accounting firm Frederick & Rosen Ltd. billed Kjellberg’s law office $1,500 “for services for ‘Hirsi/Omar 2015 & 2014.’ ” The report goes on to say that “Ms. Kjellberg stated that there was some personal benefit to Rep. Omar from the services as there was an issue with her tax returns that needed to be corrected regardless of her status as a candidate.”
Kjellberg did not return an e-mail seeking comment Friday.
Condon and Coolican state at the top of their story that Omar herself isn’t talking: “Omar declined an interview request for this story, and the campaign did not furnish copies of the tax returns in question.”
It seems highly unlikely to me that 2014 and 2015 are the only years in which Omar and Hirsi filed joint tax returns. So far as we can tell, they just happen to be the years caught up in the campaign finance investigation. See pages 5-6 of the campaign board findings below.
Although she didn’t marry Hirsi until last year, Omar has held Hirsi out as her husband at all times since she became a public figure. Over what period of time did Omar and Hirsi file joint tax returns? My guess is that it runs back to 2002. We know she filed joint tax returns with Hirsi while she was still married to Elmi. In addition to the IRS issues, the questions intersect with those arising from Omar’s marriage to Elmi.
In any event, Omar has woven a tangled web. It is the kind of web we weave when we practice to deceive. I have embedded the findings of the campaign finance board that coincidentally brought the story of her unlawful joint tax returns to light. See pages 5-6 of the findings.
Condon and Coolican relate Omar’s marital history as though we have learned nothing since 2016. They take Omar’s recitation of her marital history at face value. In a series of investigative reports for PJ Media, however, David Steinberg has provided voluminous circumstantial evidence demonstrating the fraudulence of Omar’s story. Condon and Coolican appear to be unaware of this installment of Steinberg’s series: “Address Records Show Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) Still Lived With Her First Husband Throughout Marriage To Her Apparent Brother.”
Omar and Hirsi never split. Omar’s marriage to Elmi was a sham. The illegal Omar/Hirsi joint tax returns reopen a story that Omar has to keep closed. This seems to me highly likely to have something to do with the cat that has reappeared to hold Omar’s tongue again this week.