When Omar remains silent

Earlier this year Minnesota’s ethically challenged Fifth District Rep. Ilhan Omar received a substantial cash advance — Forbes pegs it in a range from $100,00 to $250,000, but I’m told it was $300,000 — for a book someone is writing on her behalf. The book is to be published next April. Forbes picked up the Publishers Marketplace notice of Omar’s book deal in a report dated January 16, 2019. I noted the advance last month in “Divorce, Minnesota style.”

The Washington Free Beacon wonders in a staff report whether Omar has complied with the applicable House ethics rule. Under House Rule 25, among other things, a member (1) is prohibited from receiving royalties unless the book contract is first approved by the Ethics Committee and (2) is prohibited from receiving an advance against royalties. See the House Ethics Manual at pages 224-228.

The Beacon notes this workaround for newly elected members:

Some new lawmakers who, like Omar, garner national attention on the campaign trail and draw the attention of book publishers, work around the rule by signing book contracts after they are elected—but before they are officially sworn into office. Doing so allows them to accept advances that frequently run well into the six-figure range—Omar’s book deal was reportedly worth between $100,000 and $250,000, according to Forbes—while still complying with House ethics rules.

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Omar’s colleague, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R., Texas), for example, received a $250,000 advance to pen a book about “outrage culture” before his swearing in last January. The hefty sum appears on his 2018 financial disclosure report, a filing required from all members of Congress detailing the sources and value of the incomes of House members.

Omar was sworn in on January 3, 2019. To comply with the House rule, Omar would have had to agree to the publishing contract and take any advance before that date. Omar’s 2018 financial disclosure report lists no book advance. Did she enter into the contract and receive the advance on January 1 or 2 this year? We won’t know until she files her 2019 financial disclosure report.

Omar could tell us, of course, and the Beacon asked both Omar and her publisher. Neither Omar’s publisher nor Omar spokesman Jeremy Slevin responded to the Beacon’s numerous requests for comment.

When Omar has something to say on her own behalf, she is not bashful about saying it. When caught in a compromising situation, however, Omar exercises her right to remain silent, accuses anyone who asks about it of “Islamophobia” or “stupidity,” and/or lies about it.

As a candidate for state legislative office and in her brief tenure in the state legislature, Omar could not have cared less about compliance with applicable ethics rules. The state campaign finance board spent a year investigating her numerous violations and discovered, coincidentally, that she had filed joint tax returns with the man to whom she was not legally married while she was married to another man. What was she thinking? Beyond imputing “Islamophobia” to anyone who asks, she has refused to say word one about that either.

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