We are familiar with congressional scandals involving wine, women, and money. Mark Twain famously characterized Congress as our only distinctly native criminal class. The curious case of Ilhan Omar, however, presents us with something new in congressional corruption scandals. They are scandals peculiarly fitting the age of Trump. One has the sense that the scandals in which Omar finds herself implicated are about to crack open.
We have the unrebutted June 6 findings of the Minnesota campaign finance board that Omar filed joint tax returns in 2014 and 2015 with a man to whom she was not married — while she was married to another man. Although Omar does not dispute the board’s findings, she has refused to offer any explanation.
We have our look into the campaign finance board investigation in our series “From the mixed-up files of Rep. Ilhan Omar.”
We have the page-one Star Tribune story of June 23 “New documents revisit questions about Rep. Ilhan Omar’s marriage history.”
We have the June 24 column by Spectator USA’s pseudonymous Cockburn under the headline “Ilhan Omar lawyer: two marriages hard to explain.” Subhead: “And newly surfaced documents seem to undermine her backstory.” Cockburn writes with a humorist’s flair as he analyzes the evidence with the skills of a historian.
We have President Trump’s elevation of “the brother angle” (as Omar consultant Ben Goldfarb called it in 2016) to national attention in his July 17 remarks at the White House: “Well, there’s a lot of talk about the fact that she was married to her brother. I know nothing about it. I hear she was married to her brother. You’re asking me a question about it. I don’t know, but I’m sure that somebody would be looking at that.” So you would think.
We have the fifth installment of David Steinberg’s investigative series on the evidence of Omar’s illegal misconduct.
We have, most recently, the Daily Mail’s exclusive July 26 story “Ilhan Omar SPLITS with her husband and moves into luxury penthouse as she heads for SECOND divorce with father of her three children,” datelined Minneapolis. I commented on this story in “Just married…and divorced.”
In its July 26 story, the Daily Mail takes note of Christian minister Wilecia Harris. Harris signed the 2009 marriage certificate for Omar’s marriage to Ahmed Elmi. With Harris’s signature the clock strikes 13 (or higher) in the Omar saga. I posted the certificate and commented in it in part 3 and part 7 of my “mixed-up files” series.
Preya Samsundar tracked down Harris at work in 2016 and asked her about the 2009 wedding of Elmi and Omar which she officiated. Harris claimed to know nothing.
The Daily Mail also tracked Harris down, this time at her home in Burnsville. Unfortunately, Harris still isn’t talking: “Harris refused to open the door and said through the glass that she would not comment on the ceremony.”
And of course Omar herself isn’t talking. The woman who will not shut up issued a classic statement through spokesman Jeremy Slevin when the Star Tribune came knocking: “Since before she was elected to office, Ilhan has been the subject of conspiracy theories and false accusations about her personal life. Emboldened by a president who openly treats immigrants, refugees and Muslims as invaders, these attacks often stem from the presumption that Ilhan — like others who share those identities — is somehow illegitimate or not fully American. Ilhan has shared more than most public officials ever do about the details of her personal life — even when it is personally painful. Whether by colluding with right-wing outlets to go after Muslim elected officials or hounding family members, legitimate media outlets have a responsibility not to fan the flames of hate. Continuing to do so is not only demeaning to Ilhan, but to her entire family.”
Slevin’s statement echoed the statement I received from a criminal defense attorney when I asked the Omar campaign about her marriages in 2016. The song remains the same.
Omar’s accusation that the Star Tribune was “colluding” with “right-wing media outlets” ought to be a clue that something here is wildly wrong. Slevin’s ridiculous statement had no purpose other than to shame the Star Tribune into maintaining its silence and returning to sleep. It didn’t work then, but it seems to be working now, even though the silence of Wilecia Harris is yet another clue that something here is deeply amiss.