Omar will return speaking fees after ethical questions


Democratic state Rep. Ilhan Omar says she's returning $2,500 in speaking fees to public college scholarship funds after a GOP lawmaker raised concerns. 

Representative Steve Drazkowski raised the concern on Monday. The Mazeppa Republican says it's a major ethical lapse for a lawmaker to take that money from an organization that lobbies at the Legislature. 

Economic disclosure reports filed with Congress and Drazkowski's own public records requests revealed the speaking fees she accepted from Normandale Community College and Inver Hills Community College last year. Minnesota House rules bars representatives from accepting speaking fees from entities with business at the Legislature.

Omar is the nation's first Somali-American lawmaker who is running for Congress after just one term.

Statement from Ilhan Omar:

“A number of speaking engagements, including these, were scheduled and confirmed prior to my election, swearing-in, and instruction on Minnesota House rules. In the transition, we didn’t realize that we would need to look back and apply these rules to previously confirmed engagements. It’s regrettable that Rep. Drazkowski didn’t approach me directly with his concern so I could address this oversight. To address this concern, these honoraria will be returned to the institutions through their scholarship funds as soon as possible.”