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Ilhan Omar hit with ethics complaint over appearance with ex-Somali PM

Ryan King
Thursday July 4, 2024

A conservative watchdog group hit “Squad” Rep. Ilhan Omar with an ethics complaint Wednesday over an event she took part in last weekend that featured former Somalia Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire.

Khaire stumped for Omar (D-Minn.) and pushed to get out the vote for the congresswoman, which the American Accountability Foundation (AAF) claims may have violated the Federal Elections Campaign Act.

“We are deeply concerned by Ilhan Omar’s illegal campaign rally with the former Prime Minister of Somalia. Omar already has a long history of statements indicating her disdain for America and allegiance to Somalia, but this goes beyond statements,” AAF said in a statement.

“Now her campaign has taken action to involve a foreign leader in an American election. She must resign immediately and return every dollar raised for her at this disgraceful rally.”

Omar’s campaign counsel David Mitrani quickly fired back, telling The Post, “This ethics complaint is another attempt by the far-right to smear the Congresswoman.”

“Congresswoman Omar’s campaign had absolutely no involvement in requesting, coordinating, or facilitating Mr Khaire’s appearance or his comments, and accordingly there was no violation of law,” he said.

AAF asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to open an investigation into Omar and cited two possible infractions.

First are accusations that Omar “knowingly” accepted Khaire’s “services” at “her campaign events” which AAF claims went beyond the scope of “the limited volunteer services permitted by a foreign national and involved impermissible decision-making.”

Specifically, AAF is alleging that Khaire’s “particularity” in which he engaged in a get-out-the-vote effort for Omar amounted to “prohibited decision-making.”

“Support her with your votes, tell your neighbors and friends, and anyone you know to come out and support Ilhan Omar,” Khaire said, according to a translation of his remarks cited by AAF in the complaint.

“And knock on every door you can so that she can be re-elected.”

Additional footage circulating online showing Khaire huddling with Omar and others while underscoring the importance of her prevailing in the Aug. 13 primary. Khaire also posted a video of his remarks on X.

“I participated in the celebration of the 64th anniversary of the independence and unity of Somalia, which took place in Minneapolis. I gave a speech at the forum to participate in the joy and celebration of this historic event,” he wrote, according to Google Translate.

Under federal law, candidates are barred from “knowingly soliciting, accepting, or receiving contributions or donations from foreign nationals.”

AAF also alleged that Khaire’s “services” to Omar’s campaign “appear to be compensated by a prohibited source.”

The conservative group cited a report from NewsChannelNebraska about Khaire headlining the recent 2024 Somali Week Festival.

Based on that report, AAF ascertained that the Minneapolis-based nonprofit group Ka Joog may have “sponsored” Khaire’s trip to the US.

“Omar’s acceptance of Mr. Khaire’s providing his campaign services indicates that Rep. Omar knowingly accepted a corporate contribution associated with Mr. Khaire’s travel and lodging costs to galvanize an important constituency ahead of her August primary election,” AAF alleged in its complaint.

The Post reached out to Ka Joog for comment and to ask whether it actually sponsored Khaire’s trip to the US. The Post was unable to reach Khaire for comment.

Khaire, 56, served as the 19th prime minister of Somalia from 2017 until 2020.

“Khaire is an extremely popular figure among the Somali diaspora, which is a significant and powerful constituency in Rep. Omar’s district,” AAF added.

Omar is facing a difficult primary contest against former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels.

The primary comes against the backdrop of a broader spate of challenges against members of the so-called “Squad” and a rift among Democrats over the Israel-Hamas war.

Omar, who is one of the first two female Muslim-Americans elected to the lower chamber, has been an outspoken critic of Israel’s war against Hamas, criticism that has occasionally crossed the line into antisemtism.

The congresswoman was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and her family received asylum in the US when she was a teenager. Minnesota has the largest Somali population of any state in the country.

Earlier this year, Omar became engulfed in controversy over remarks that some translated to, “The US government will do what we tell the US government to do.”

“As long as I’m in Congress no one will take Somalia’s sea. And the United States will not support other people to rob us.”

The Office of Congressional Ethics is an independent group that monitors conduct in the lower chamber. When it deems necessary, the office will refer matters to the House Ethics Committee for review.


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