Update: We discuss this story in-depth and what has happened since it broke on the NOQ Report Podcast.
Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) may be involved in another questionable campaign finance practice. She has already been accused of multiple indiscretions that have kept her campaign in the spotlight, and not in a good way. But this latest one seems to be extra hideous as it involves potentially funneling money away from a local charity.
Her campaign set up an ActBlue fundraising page titled “Step up to help feed Minnesota’s students and families!” On Facebook and Twitter, she made the following claim to promote the fundraiser:
“As Minnesotans struggle with hunger, I’m partnering with @MNFoodShare and other local groups that pack and deliver meals to students and families. Chip in $5 today to power their efforts to keep our communities fed! #GivingTuesdayNow #GiveAtHomeMN”
There are a few problems with this claim, not the least of which is the fact that the Executive Director of GMCC, which administers Minnesota FoodShare, had no idea what Omar was referring to nor where the money was going. By definition, “partnering” generally requires both entities to be aware of the partnership. Minnesota FoodShare became aware of the so-called partnership days after the posts went up and the donations started coming into Omar’s campaign fundraising portal, but they didn’t hear anything about it from Omar’s campaign.
As David Steinberg at PJ Media noted, Omar deleted the initial Tweet after GMCC Executive Director Adrienne Dorn replied, “I am the Executive Director of GMCC – Minnesota FoodShare is our program. Ilhan Omar had nothing to do with this project. I do not know where this money is going to.”
The Facebook post has been deleted as well.
— David Steinberg (@realDSteinberg) May 8, 2020
There are two more interesting aspects to her posts. ActBlue is the Democrats’ campaign fundraising platform. While it’s possible Omar was going to accept the money and then donate it to Minnesota FoodShare’s platform, which is powered by MoonClerk, doing so incurs additional fees unnecessarily. She could have just linked directly to their donation platform.
The bigger point of interest is in the wording of Omar’s post. She says “I’m partnering…” and “Chip in $5 to power their efforts…” rather than asking people to donate to the food bank itself. It’s very clever campaign doublespeak that may or may not be legal, but it’s definitely unethical if this was, indeed, simply a campaign fundraising ploy.
Unless every penny donated through her campaign finance portal during the time period in question is given to the Minnesota FoodShare immediately, the campaign may have committed campaign finance violations. An argument can be made that she technically wasn’t asking people to donate to the food bank, but the intended understanding of her posts was to assume that donations would go directly to Minnesota FoodShare.
This doesn’t pass the smell test and seems like a fraud prima facie.
Why didn’t Ilhan Omar just link to the food bank? Why did the Executive Director of the charity she allegedly “partnered” with have no idea what she was doing? Why did she immediately delete the posts? The Congresswoman has some explaining to do.
Check out the NEW NOQ Report Podcast.