Two Wisconsin Republicans introduced legislation in the U.S. House called the “OMAR Act,” a bill that would prevent political candidates from using campaign cash “to enrich their spouses.”
“For too long, lawmakers of both political parties have engaged in the ethically dubious practice of pocketing campaign funds by ‘hiring’ their spouses and laundering the money as campaign related expenses,” said Rep. Tom Tiffany, who represents Wisconsin’s Seventh Congressional District.
On Friday, he and Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin’s Eighth Congressional District introduced the Oversight for Members And Relatives Act, called the “OMAR Act” for short.
The bill was introduced in response to reports that Rep. Ilhan Omar’s campaign sent $2.9 million to her husband’s consulting firm throughout the 2020 election cycle. Omar’s payments to E Street Group, co-owned by husband Tim Mynett, accounted for 78% of the firm’s total disclosed receipts and 56% of Omar’s total spending, Alpha News reported.
Omar announced in November that she had severed ties with E Street so that her campaign’s financial backers would feel “there is no perceived issue with that support.”
The congresswoman from Minneapolis had previously defended her payments to E Street, saying she and her husband “consulted with a top FEC campaign attorney to ensure there were no possible legal issues with our relationship.”
“We were told this is not uncommon and that no, there weren’t,” she said. “It’s disappointing that reporters would rather amplify the baseless claims and misinformation of right-wing Twitter instead of talking to actual experts on the law. This is everything wrong with media coverage in 2020.”
Tiffany and Gallagher said their bill is based on a proposal that was introduced by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff in 2007 and supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. At the time, Schiff said his bill to prohibit spouses from collecting campaign checks would ensure that “elected officials are working in the public’s interest and not their own.”
“Loopholes that allow members of Congress to funnel campaign funds to their spouses are despicable and erode trust in our government,” Gallagher said in a press release. “There’s simply no logical reason for allowing this practice to continue, and I’m proud to join Rep. Tiffany in this common-sense effort to ensure members can’t profit off running for Congress.”
The Wisconsin Republicans said the $2.7 million sum “appears to be more than all members of Congress paid their immediate relatives during the entire 2012 election cycle, combined.”
“Regardless of political party, we should all be able to agree that running for political office shouldn’t be part of a family enrichment scheme,” said Tiffany. “Passing the OMAR Act will help restore public confidence in Congress and stop politicians from effectively pocketing their campaign funds.”
Despite collecting millions from his wife’s campaign, Mynett and E Street Group received more than $600,000 in COVID-19 relief funds.