Given the elevated attention President Trump has showered on Ilhan Omar, the Drudge Report now links to the June 23 page-one Star Tribune story by Patrick Coolican and Stephen Montemayor under the awkward headline “New documents revisit questions about Rep. Ilhan Omar’s marriage history.” The Star Tribune story provides mainstream validation to points we have made here repeatedly over the past three years, including points we made recently in our series “From the mixed-up files of Rep. Ilhan Omar.”
Note Omar’s refusal to speak to the Star Tribune reporters or allow anyone in her family to talk to them. On this subject, the woman who won’t shut up and who can’t be silenced refuses to talk.
The “new documents” to which the Star Tribune headline refers derive from the Minnesota campaign finance board investigation of Omar in which we learned coincidentally that Omar had filed illegal joint tax returns with a man to whom she was not married — while she was married to another man (assuming that marriage was not void at its inception). You’d think that might be a big story, but Omar’s stonewalling has served her well so far with the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, and the lesser lights of the national media. Only Tucker Carlson of FOX News has sought to give it the attention it merits.
We obtained a copy of the the voluminous campaign finance board investigative file as soon as it was made available last month and featured gleanings from it in the “mixed-up files” series. Both the Star Tribune and I are central to the story revealed in the file.
My 2016 queries regarding Omar’s plural marriages and relation to husband number 2 turned into Omar’s first public relations crisis. In docket item number 35 we can observe in the emails produced to the board how Omar’s campaign team handled it the crisis. I posted the emails produced by the Omar campaign to the board at Scribd and have embedded them below.
Among the players in the emails exchanged are campaign spokesman Jean Heyer (whom I originally called for comment in August 2016), attorney and crisis committee member Carla Kjellberg, and crisis committee consultant Ben Goldfarb. The documents show Goldfarb’s work on a statement that was to be the last word and spare Omar the difficulty of addressing the facts herself.
When local political commentator/publisher Blois Olson cited my original August 2016 Power Line post and referred to Power Line as “a trustworthy conservative news source” in his daily newsletter, Goldbarb advised: “Someone should reach out to talk off the record [with Olson] and shut it down with him as we do with the Strib” (page 22). Goldfarb remarked on his struggle to arrive at a helpful statement of the facts to cover Omar’s situation — one cultural husband, one legal husband — and lamented that “I think it’s impossible without making it even more confusing. It just doesn’t work in writing” (page 38).
The Star Tribune story omits Goldfarb’s statement to the crisis committee in the emails that he had “talked to the Strib [Patrick Coolican, I assume] and they are generally in a good place (they get that there are not 2 legal marriages and are not pursuing the brother angle), but have pieced together that the person she is legally married to is not the father of [her] children, on the website, etc.” (page 38). That troublesome “brother angle” remains a loose thread in the curious case.
The crisis committee’s public relations strategy from the outset was founded on personal attacks and predicated on the confidence that the attacks would carry the day with their friends working on the news at the Star Tribune and elsewhere in the local media. Their confidence was not entirely misplaced. The Star Tribune covered the story, but took the Omar campaign’s minimalistic statements as the last word on the matter. To this day the paper reiterates several of the questionable assertions in these statements as the settled facts of the case.
The Star Tribune is most ungenerous to those of us — me, Preya Samsundar, and David Steinberg — who have pursued the story over the past three years during which the Star Tribune and the national media have slept. The Star Tribune story refers to us only as “conservative opinion journalists,” “conservative Power Line,” “conservative critics,” and “conservative activists.”
We’re conservative, okay, but did we get anything wrong? Not that I can tell.