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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R)

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

ST. PAUL – After State Representative Ilhan Omar told listeners in a Minnesota Public Radio debate Tuesday that she has not committed any campaign finance violations, State Representative Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) announced that for the second time this year, the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board (CFB) has found a prima facie violation against Omar’s campaign committee.


Drazkowski was recently notified by the CFB that it will soon hold a hearing to determine whether probable cause exists for Omar’s use campaign resources for personal travel expenses.


“Once again, I’m pleased the Campaign Finance Board is taking this seriously, because Representative Omar’s repeated misuse of the public’s funds – and trust – is a significant problem,” Drazkowski said.


Drazkowski filed the complaint based on findings in the Omar Committee’s 2017 year-end report. It showed more than $3,000 in travel-related disbursements, including airline tickets for an international trip to Estonia and airline expenses for a trip to Massachusetts so Omar could speak at a rally on behalf of Boston City Council candidate Deego Jibril.


When confronted about her campaign finance investigation during the MPR debate, Omar stated, “the truth is, I have never been really been cited for any campaign finance violation.”


To date, Omar’s Committee has been fined more than $2,000 for campaign finance violations related to late filings of campaign finance reports and a statement of economic interest.


According to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board’s prima facie violation response to Drazkowski’s complaint: “The Omar Committee’s 2017 year-end report shows several noncampaign disbursements for out-of-state travel for Rep. Omar to attend various events.” It also states: “The information on the committee’s 2017 year-end report does not indicate how attendance at these events would have helped Rep. Omar in the performance of her legislative duties.”


Drazkowski noted Omar’s latest probable cause hearing will be taken up by the CFB on November 7, the day after Election Day.


“Instead of attacking me for bringing up her growing list of violations, Representative Omar needs to recognize that campaign finance rules are made to be followed, not bent in order to personally benefit herself,” Drazkowski said. “Representative Omar is not a victim here; the true victims are the taxpayers whose money appears to be illegally wasted.”


Earlier this year, Drazkowski filed a campaign finance complaint against the Omar committee for using campaign money to pay legal fees to her divorce attorney. According to statements made to the CFB by attorney Carla Kjellberg, Omar's payment to Kjellberg’s law office was reimbursed for services that the Kjellberg firm initially paid for on behalf of the Omar Committee, which would be a violation of state law. Additionally, it appears that the reimbursed expenses may have been related to tax preparation and legal expenses related to immigration. Probable cause was found in this complaint, and that case continues to be formally investigated by the CFB.


Also in 2017, Rep. Omar had accepted payments from three Minnesota colleges after making appearances on campuses – which Drazkowski said was a clear violation of Minnesota House rules. So far, Omar has repaid $2,500 of the $2,750 amount she should not have accepted.

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