Omar, Tlaib Saw Spikes in Campaign Cash After Anti-Semitic Remarks

Cash flowed to campaign committees as freshman duo battled controversy

Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar / Getty Images

Democratic representatives Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) both saw spikes in campaign contributions as they battled accusations of anti-Semitism, Federal Election Commission filings show.

The freshman duo, particularly Omar, have found themselves in hot water over the past two months. During a "progressive town hall" on Feb. 27 at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C., Omar remarked on the "political influence" in the United States "that says it's OK to push allegiance to a foreign country" while speaking in relation to Israel. Tlaib was at the event alongside Omar.

Senior Democratic officials were forced to rebuke Omar over the comments, and House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot Engel (D., N.Y), who is Jewish, called the remarks a "vile anti-Semitic slur."

Prior to the event, Omar found herself under fire for a tweet in which she claimed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was funding her critics. Omar pushed back against her Democratic colleagues following the event and has continued to make such remarks publicly.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the controversy over her comments, Omar and Tlaib (the latter regularly defends Omar's remarks), both saw spikes in campaign contributions, filings show.

Throughout the first quarter of the year, which spans from Jan. 1 to March 31, Omar's campaign pulled $822,024.29 in contributions from individuals, $414,000 of which came from small donors, or individuals providing less than $200 in total contributions to the campaign.

Most of the money was raised by the campaign following the Feb. 27 event that led to a stream of public headaches for Democrats. Omar's campaign hauled in just $24,331 in contributions in January while taking in $115,007 in donations in February—$23,360 of which came the day after the D.C. townhall event with Tlaib.

However, throughout March the congresswoman hauled in $265,429 in donations, according to an analysis of her campaign records.

Three of Omar's biggest days this year all came in March. On March 29, the campaign was given $49,400; on March 5 the campaign reported $45,397; and on March 27, the committee saw $29,360 in donations.

A closer look at the data reveals a notable jump in contributions to Omar in the period specifically following her and Tlaib's Busboys and Poets appearance. In the pre-appearance period, she raised an average of $6,443 per day; after her appearance, that figure jumps to $11,552 per day on average.

Tlaib also experienced a drastic increase in campaign contributions at the same time as Omar.

Federal Election Commission filings show that Tlaib's campaign received $313,317.65 in individual contributions, $70,000 of which came from small donors. Tlaib's campaign committee pulled in just $36,430 combined throughout January and February.

However, the congresswoman was the recipient of $206,817 in campaign contributions from individuals throughout March. Like Omar, Tlaib's three biggest days in terms of campaign contribution hauls all came last month when the committee took in $53,450 on March 10, $30,305 on March 25, and $29,920 on March 28.

The data show that Tlaib's receipts show an even more dramatic increase following the Busboys and Poets appearance than Omar's do. In the pre-appearance period, she averaged just $1,179 per day in contributions; after the appearance, that figure rises to $7,146, driven by a number of major March appearances.

The lion's share of Omar's funding comes not from her home state of Minnesota, which gave her just under $10,000 in the first three months of 2019, but from Massachusetts. The Bay State gave her $84,610 pre-appearance. But after she rose to national attention, residents nearly doubled that number, giving $165,667 in the post-appearance period.

Tlaib received little money before her rise to prominence; her best source was Illinoisans, who gave her $11,900 in the lead-up to her comments. But national attention netted her national donors, including $35,375 from New Yorkers and $140,712 from residents of California.

Omar's and Tlaib's campaigns did not respond to requests for comments by press time.