MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Ilhan Omar, a Democratic candidate for the Minnesota House of Representatives, attempted to clarify her marital history Wednesday after facing a slew of questions about marriage certificates and the identity of her legal husband.
In a statement released Wednesday, Omar called the rumors “absolutely false and ridiculous.”
"I will offer clarity and share a difficult part of my personal history that I did not consider relevant in the context of a political campaign, so that we can put these rumors to rest," Omar said.
In 2002, Omar says she applied for a marriage license with a man named Ahmed Hirsi, the father of her children and the man she publicly refers to as her husband, but the couple never finalized the application and was never legally married. The relationship ended in 2008.
Omar says she legally married Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, a British citizen, in 2009. The conservative Power Line blog alleges the man is her brother and that it was a potential sham marriage to help the brother with immigration into the United States.
“Insinuations that Ahmed Nur Said Elmi is my brother are absurd and offensive,” Omar said in the statement.
Omar says she and Elmi divorced in their faith tradition in 2011 and he moved back to England. She says the pair is in the process of getting legally divorced.
In the statement, Omar confirmed she is currently married, in her faith tradition, to Hirsi and the couple is raising their family together.
Fox 9 has previously reported that there are some discrepancies between Omar’s stated husband and marriage certificates that are on file with Hennepin County and the state.
Omar’s response came after Republican candidate Abdimalik Askar released his own statement Wednesday calling for “more facts” from his DFL opponent.
District house race 60B – a district which includes the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis – is shaping up to be a historic legislative race as it pits two Somali-American immigrants to succeed longtime state representative Phyllis Kahn. The winner will be the first Somali-born legislator in U.S. history.
Omar defeated Kahn in the 60B primary – a district which includes the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis. Omar, whose campaign biography says she spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before settling in Minneapolis in 1997, is a heavy favorite to win the November general election.
Statement from Democratic candidate Ilhan Omar
"A number of baseless rumors have been made recently about my personal life and family. I will say it again here: they are absolutely false and ridiculous."
"That said, I will offer clarity and share a difficult part of my personal history that I did not consider relevant in the context of a political campaign, so that we can put these rumors to rest and return to what really matters: how we join together to build a more prosperous and equitable district and state."
"In 2002, when I was 19 years old, Ahmed Hirsi (whose name before he received citizenship was Ahmed Aden), the father of my children and love of my life, and I, applied for a marriage license, but we never finalized the application and thus were never legally married. In 2008, we decided to end our relationship in our faith tradition after reaching an impasse in our life together."
"I entered into a relationship with a British citizen, Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, and married him legally in 2009. Our relationship ended in 2011 and we divorced in our faith tradition. After that, he moved home to England. I have yet to legally divorce Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, but am in the process of doing so. Insinuations that Ahmed Nur Said Elmi is my brother are absurd and offensive."
"Since 2011, I am happy to say that I have reconciled with Ahmed Hirsi, we have married in our faith tradition and are raising our family together. Like all families, we have had our ups and downs but we are proud to have come through it together."
"I appreciate the countless messages of support I have received from the people of 60B and beyond who understand how difficult and deeply personal this has been for my family and especially my children. I remain honored to be a part of a campaign that is uniting the diverse voices of our district – long term residents, East African immigrants and students.”
Statement from Republican candidate Abdimalik Askar
“We all know what has been alleged about Omar illegally marrying her brother to commit immigration fraud. It is a serious accusation and would certainly disqualify her from representing district 60B if true.”
“The truly odd thing about the story is how Omar’s campaign has chosen to respond. Instead of having her brother explain who he married or producing any sort of documentation, Omar released a statement calling the accusations a racist witch-hunt."
"I’m obviously very much in favor of a Somali being elected in 60B, and my questions about this situation are like everyone’s. The constituents that Omar wishes to represent, myself included, would simply like a clear non-political answer about the allegations. If she can’t provide that, what kind of representative is she going to be?”