Democratic senator faces ethics complaint for attempting to enrich friendly nonprofit

Seven GOP state senators signed a Sunday letter to the chamber's subcommittee on ethical conduct, which asked for a review of two concerns about Sen. Omar Fateh.

Sen. Omar Fateh, right, talks with a colleague on the Senate floor. (Minnesota Senate/Facebook)

Minnesota Senate Republicans have filed an ethics complaint against a Democratic colleague over a bill to enrich a nonprofit that endorsed his candidacy.

Seven GOP state senators signed a Sunday letter to the chamber’s subcommittee on ethical conduct, which asked for a review of two concerns about Sen. Omar Fateh.

The first concern pertains to Fateh’s introduction of a bill giving $500,000 over two years to Somali TV of Minnesota, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that ran ads encouraging viewers to vote for Fateh in the summer of 2020.

Such nonprofits, however, are forbidden by law from “directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office,” according to the IRS.

“$250,000 in fiscal year 2022 and $250,000 in fiscal year 2023 are appropriated from the arts and cultural heritage fund to the commissioner of administration for a grant to Somali TV of Minnesota to create programming and expand coverage of Minnesota Somalis’ cultural heritage and history,” Fateh’s bill reads.

Introduced in March 2021, the bill remains in committee over one year later.

The second concern relates to a volunteer for Fateh’s 2020 state Senate campaign. Muse Mohamud Mohamed, who is also Fateh’s brother-in-law, was recently found guilty of lying to a grand jury about his conduct in trafficking three absentee ballots.

Mohamed had testified he directly received three absentee ballots from voters in connection with the state’s “agent delivery” system. But each voter’s testimony contradicted his.

“The voters … testified that they do not know Mohamed and did not ask him to pick up and deliver absentee ballots for them,” according to the Justice Department.

Not only are Fateh and Mohamed brothers-in-law, Mohamed once used to live at an address registered to Fateh’s wife Kalum as well.

In a Tuesday press release, the seven Republican senators wrote a statement saying elected officials “owe it” to their constituents to “conduct [themselves] with the highest level of integrity and transparency.”

“Minnesotans deserve to know elected officials are seeking to support the general improvement of the lives of Minnesotans when we take on legislation and not using the power of the state to advance our own personal interests,” the statement reads. “We urge the Sub-Committee to promptly examine our complaint and provide the public with transparent and clear answers about what happened.”