Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) continues to violate Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations governing travel by her campaign staff. As detailed in an amendment to our August 28, 2019 FEC Complaint, Omar failed to itemize travel expenses to E Street Group, a firm owned by her boyfriend Tim Mynett in her FEC disclosure reports for the third quarter of 2019.
The amendment charges, “Respondents either continue to willfully disregard the law, or misunderstand it.” From the amendment:
On October 12, 2019, Ilhan Omar for Congress filed FEC Form 3, Report of Receipts and Disbursements for the period covering July 1, 2019 through September 30, 2019. The filing reports Total Operating Expenditures of $441,638.95. Of that amount, disbursements totaling $146,712.64 were reported on Schedule B to E Street Group, LLC, owned by Tim Mynett.
Disbursements to E Street Group, LLC totaled more than a third of total disbursements and made it the largest vendor of Omar’s campaign committee.
The purposes of the disbursements are identified as “digital communications consulting,” “fundraising consulting,” “digital advertising’” “graphic design and printing,” “travel and fundraising expenses,” “print advertisement,” “printing,” “travel expenses,” “video production,” and “list rental.”
The purpose of disbursement for a payment to E Street Group on August 1, 2019 in the amount of $2,823.01 is identified as “travel and fundraising expenses.” Again, Omar’s campaign committee failed to itemize travel expenses. A committee can reimburse a campaign traveler for travel expenses, but it must report reimbursing the campaign traveler and, if the amount exceeds $500, provide information about the original travel vendors.
Moreover, a disbursement can be “travel” expense or a “fundraising” expense, but it cannot be both, even if the travel was in conjunction with fundraising activities. The FEC requires more specific information in reporting travel disbursements, such as the names of airlines, hotels, etc.
The amendment quotes a statement released by David Mitrani, who identified himself as counsel to Omar’s campaign and E Street Group, following NLPC’s original Complaint:
There is nothing untoward about this, nor anything illegal about it – and the complaint even misstates the law on travel reimbursements (as it is not required for payments to vendors, only for payments specifically to individuals).
Mitrani claims that NLPC “even misstates the law on travel reimbursements” as he misstates the law himself. FEC instructions on how candidates should report travel reimbursements can be found here.
As reported in this Daily Mail story yesterday, the FEC presently lacks a quorum. The six-member Commission is equally split by law between three Democrats and three Republicans. Traditionally, nominees for openings from each party have been “paired” for Senate confirmation. President Trump has nominated a Republican, but Senator Charles Schumer has not come up with a Democrat.
This lack of a quorum is a matter of frustration for ethics groups. It is also a problem for Representative Omar who will have serious allegations hanging over her head for some time to come.