ST. PAUL, Minn. – State Rep. Ilhan Omar’s economic interest disclosure continues to raise concern, with new revelations pointing to a violation of Minnesota House ethics rules.
Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) held a press conference Monday calling out Omar for accepting payments from campuses in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. According to Drazkowski, Omar’s actions were in “direct violation” of a House rule that prohibits legislators from receiving honorariums from organizations that have business before the Legislature.
“I would have expected that Rep. Omar’s internal compass would alert her to the direct conflict of interest involved in taking money from institutions she was then going to vote on the amount of money that the Legislature would then allocate to them,” Drazkowski said. “Sadly, either that internal compass failed her or she ignored it.”
“This is not only unethical on its face, but a clear violation of House rule 9.20. A rule Rep. Omar voted for not once, but twice,” Drazkowski added.
Omar was paid $2,000 in February 2017 to give a keynote address at a Normandale Community College event. In April 2017, Omar was paid $500 to speak at an Inver Hills Community College event.
The honorariums were revealed in Omar’s economic interest disclosure, which Omar filed almost six months late. By delaying the filing of her reports, after the legislative session had ended, Drazkowski said Omar effectively avoided a potential House Ethics Committee hearing into the violation. Because the Legislature is no longer in session, formal ethics charges cannot be filed against Omar.
Drazkowski is calling on Omar to “do the right thing” and return the honorariums, suggesting the money go into a scholarship fund at the two MnSCU campuses.
“Therefore, I am asking Rep. Omar to do the right thing: immediately pay back the money that she took in violation of House rules, and to not use campaign funds for paying these campuses back,” Drazkowski said. “And I would suggest that the money should be paid into a scholarship fund at these two campuses.”
“Being a legislator is not supposed to be a transactional occupation and that just appears to be what we have here,” Drazkowski said.
Alpha News reached out to Omar’s office for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.
Watch Drazkowski’s press conference below: