Ilhan Omar dismisses ‘stupid questions' about alleged affair, use of campaign funds

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar said Wednesday that it was “stupid” for reporters to ask her about allegations that she misused campaign funds to pay the travel expenses of a man with whom she’s accused of having an affair.

Omar’s campaign has paid at least $229,000 for a variety of purposes to E Street Group, a consulting firm operated by Tim Mynett, according to federal campaign finance records. Mynett’s estranged wife, Beth, accused her husband and Omar of having an affair in a divorce filing made Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Superior Court.

The freshman Democratic congresswoman’s campaign provided documents that showed $21,546 went to cover E Street’s travel expenses over a 10-week period earlier this year, around the same time Beth Mynett said her husband left her for Omar.

“They’re stupid questions,” Omar said while dodging reporters after an official appearance at a north Minneapolis grocery store. “Do you understand what ‘no comment’ means?”

Aides for Omar physically blocked reporters from getting close to the congresswoman, who faces a series of controversies that she referred to Wednesday as “shenanigans and rumors.”

The conservative National Legal and Policy Center said it filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission on Wednesday alleging that Omar’s campaign was using donor money to carry out an affair. 

But David Mitrani, a Washington-based lawyer who said he represents both Omar’s campaign and E Street Group, called the complaint “a political ploy to harm Congresswoman Omar’s standing.”

“E Street Group provides multiple different services to Ilhan for Congress under an arms-length contract – fundraising, digital advertising and the like,” Mitrani said in an emailed statement. “As a part of those services, the principals of E Street Group travel around the country fundraising for the Congresswoman. There is nothing untoward about this, nor anything illegal about it.”

Beth Mynett, a medical director in Washington, D.C., said that her husband was traveling extensively before the couple separated in April. 

“On reflection, (Tim Mynett’s) more recent travel and long work hours now appear to be more related to his affair with Rep. Omar than his actual work commitments,” Beth Mynett’s divorce filing reads. She said her husband was away from the couple’s home an average of 12 days per month.

Tim Mynett did not immediately respond to a voicemail left with E Street Group.

Omar has increased the number of events she’s holding in her Minneapolis district this week. She told reporters during her roundtable Wednesday that they could “chase me all you want” but she would not answer questions about her personal life or her campaign.

“It’s always fascinating. These media people say, ‘The congresswoman doesn’t focus on her work,’” Omar told people gathered for the roundtable on food insecurity. “And then you’re here to do work and they will talk to you about some shenanigans and rumors that are online.”

Federal campaign finance records do not describe exactly what the travel expenses paid for. Records are only available through June 30; it’s unclear whether payments to E Street Group have continued since July 1.

The payments to E Street started in July 2018. Many of the payments – including all of those labeled travel expenses – came after Omar’s landslide November election win, campaign finance records indicate. 

Besides travel expenses, the other payments were for fundraising consulting, digital communications and advertising, and website development.