Democratic Congressional Hopeful Forced To Return College Speaking Fees

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor congressional candidate Ilhan Omar said Monday that she will return $2,500 in college speaking fees that she accepted in violation of Minnesota House of Representatives rules.

Minnesota state lawmaker Omar was paid $2,000 in February 2017 to speak at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota. She was paid $500 in April 2017 to speak at Inver Hills Community College in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, according to a press release issued by Republican state Rep. Steve Drazkowski.

Omar was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in November 2016. She had agreed to speak at the events before she was sworn into office in January 2017 and did not know the rules for an elected official would apply to her, she said, according the Star Tribune.

Chancellor Devinder Malhotra, who oversees Minnesota’s state colleges and universities, emailed “campus leaders” on July 11 to warn them not to pay state legislators for speaking engagements, reported the Star Tribune.

Drazkowski accused Omar of using campaign funds to pay her divorce attorney, reported the Star Tribune on July 24. Drazkowski uncovered the speaking fee violations after Omar filed her Statement of Economic Interest in June, nearly five months late, resulting in $1,100 in fines.

The Republican state lawmaker claims that Omar has a “worrisome pattern” of campaign finance violations, according to the report. Omar has been fined a total of $2,250 for three separate violations since May 2017. (RELATED: She Wants To Be The First Muslim Congresswoman. Now She’s Been Officially Accused Of Using Campaign Funds For Divorce Fees)

Omar is the frontrunner seeking Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison’s open seat as he runs for state attorney general. She was endorsed for Congress by the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party of Minnesota, which is the state’s version of the Democratic Party.

Omar is the nation’s first Somali-American legislator.

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