News & Politics

Somali-American Candidate Faces Allegations of Bigamy, Incest, and Fraud

(Leila Navidi/The Star Tribune via AP)

Ilhan Omar went down in history last week. She defeated a 22-term incumbent state representative in Minnesota’s primary, and thus positioned herself to become the nation’s first Somali-American legislator.

It didn’t take long for a shadow to be cast over that achievement. From Powerline:

A reader has written us to point out that the Somali website Somalispot posted information last week suggesting Omar’s involvement in marriage and immigration fraud. The post notes that Omar married Ahmed Hirsi in 2002. Hirsi is the father of Omar’s three children. Omar is depicted with Hirsi and their children on Omar’s campaign website here.

The post further notes that Omar married her brother Ahmed Nur Said Elmi in 2009, implying that the latter marriage assisted his entry into the United States. Her brother was a British citizen. “As soon as Ilhan Omar married him,” the post continues, “he started university at her [a]lma mater North Dakota State University where he graduated in 2012. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Minneapolis where he was living in a public housing complex and was later evicted. He then returned to the United Kingdom where he now lives.”

If these allegations prove true, Omar could be convicted of bigamy under Minnesota law and sentenced to “up to five years in prison or a fine up to $10,000.” That’s before including any other potential charges related to the apparent immigration fraud.

The Powerline post goes on to relate an exchange between author Scott Johnson and Omar’s campaign. A response came, not from the campaign directly, but from a criminal defense attorney named Jean Brandl. It completely sidesteps the substance of the allegations, dismissing Johnson’s inquiry as “Donald Trump’s playbook” employed by “people who do not want an East African, Muslim woman elected to office.”

Politically, it seems unlikely that the allegations will prevent Omar from prevailing in the heavily Democratic district she seeks to represent. However, potential criminal charges would certainly complicate matters for both the candidate and her party.