FEC Questions Omar Campaign Over Accuracy of Small Dollar Donations

Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar / Getty Images
December 11, 2019

The Federal Election Commission is inquiring about the accuracy of information provided by freshman representative Ilhan Omar's (D., Minn.) campaign in relation to its small dollar contributions, according to filings.

Omar's campaign reported $834,000 in small dollar contributions and $250,000 in large dollar contributions (donations of $200 or more per individual) during the third quarter of 2019. The FEC sent a letter to the Omar campaign in late November asking it to provide further clarification into its unitemized contributions—donations less than $200—during that time. The letter raises questions over whether the campaign shielded large donors by improperly classifying their contributions as small dollar donations.

"When contributions from an individual reach $200 for an election cycle, each subsequent contribution from that individual must be itemized, regardless of the amount," the FEC's letter states. "Please amend your report to provide [itemized contribution receipts] if necessary, or to clarify that for contributions received in the 2019-2020 cycle, the aggregate total for the election cycle for each contributor does not exceed $200."

The letter from the commission does not accuse the Omar campaign of any wrongdoing, but is "reminding" the campaign "of its disclosure requirements," according to an FEC press officer. The officer said that the FEC may send such letters to a campaign when its small dollar contribution totals are greater than the amount it pulls in from large dollar contributions. The letter was first found by Blois Olson of Fluence Media. The Omar campaign has until Dec. 26 to submit a response.

While Omar's campaign is being asked for clarification of its reported amounts, other campaigns that receive a vast share of its money from small donations—such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D., N.Y.) committee—received no such letter. Ocasio-Cortez's campaign reported $1.1 million in small dollar donations and $278,000 in large dollar contributions during the third quarter.

This isn't the first time Omar's campaign activity has come under scrutiny.

In July, the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board ruled that Omar had violated state campaign finance law during her time as a Minnesota state senator after using campaign funds for out-of-state travel. Omar was ordered to reimburse the campaign $3,500 and pay a $500 civil penalty.

Omar's federal campaign committee recently paid hefty amounts to a firm run by Tim Mynett, her alleged lover. The campaign has dished out $310,000 to the firm, called the E Street Group, for digital fundraising, communications, and advertising services so far this year. Mynett's firm is the highest paid vendor from Omar's federal campaign.

Questions have also been raised about a book deal Omar signed that was reportedly worth between $100,000 and $250,000. In order to comply with House ethics rules, the deal would need to have been signed between Jan. 1 and Jan. 3, 2019. But neither Omar nor her publisher have commented on when the deal was signed.

Omar's campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the FEC's inquiry by press time.

Published under: Ilhan Omar