Does anti-Semitism pay? Donations flow in for Omar

Ilhan Omar is among the Democratic Party’s top fundraisers despite – or due to – her anti-Semitic statements and anti-Israel stance.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Ilhan Omar, a provocative Muslim freshman representative from Minnesota widely accused of anti-Semitism, is stocking up her political-campaigning war chest faster than almost any other Democrat in the House, Politico reported Monday.

Omar took office in January, and according to her mandated quarterly report to the Federal Election Commission, contributions totaling $832,000 have flown in to her coffers through March 31. This amount puts her among the top Democratic fundraisers, who are usually from expensive or swing districts and know they’ll have to spend a lot in the next elections, only two years away.

Considering that Omar is from a safely “blue” district, the early, massive interest in supporting her may be surprising. However, the Somali-American lawmaker has courted much controversy in her short tenure, and there has already been tentative talk of challenging her in a primary in two years’ time.

Most of the outcry against Omar has resulted from statements she has made that were widely considered anti-Semitic, such as in February, when she accused the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC of “buying” support for Israel in Congress. In a widely publicized tweet, she said, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” referring to $100 bills that have Benjamin Franklin’s face on them. She has also voiced support for the virulently anti-Israel BDS movement and, most recently, downplayed the 9/11 terror attacks.

According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign finance spending, the total spent in the 2018 American elections by all pro-Israel lobbying groups together was $5 million. Yet this pales in comparison to campaign contributions by lobbies for mega-industries such as securities and investments ($389 million) and real estate ($186 million).

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Most of the money was pledged to Omar online, with almost half the amount coming from individuals who gave less than $200 each. According to the report, only $10,000 came from political action committees (PACs), including $2,000 from a PAC affiliated with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), another freshman congresswoman who has stirred controversy with her own anti-Israel remarks.

Omar is currently facing an investigation by her state’s Campaign Finance Board for alleged infractions of Minnesota law during her term in the state legislature, before she ran for Congress. They are examining whether she improperly spent almost $6,000 in campaign funds for personal use. A decision is expected in about a month.