Opponent says Omar has used time in office to ‘divide our community and enrich herself’

Prior to ending her relationship with her husband’s consulting firm in November 2020, Omar had paid out $2.78 million to the firm.

Democratic congressional candidate Don Samuels is in a potentially tight race against Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. (Don Samuels for Congress/Shutterstock)

Former Minneapolis City Councilman Don Samuels held a press conference Thursday in which he demanded “transparency” from Fifth District Rep. Ilhan Omar, whom he accused of personal enrichment through her husband Tim Mynett, whose political consultancy firm she paid roughly $3 million.

Samuels, who is running against Omar in the DFL primary, held the conference in response to an article published by the Minnesota Reformer which cataloged a series of Mynett’s business failures in conjunction with his business partner Will Hailer. In fall 2021, Mynett and Hailer promised restaurant owner Naeem Mohd a triple return if he would invest $300,000 into their newly minted winery, eStCru Wines, according to the article. Of Mynett, Mohd’s attorney Faisal Gill told the Reformer, “if it was not for Tim, the deal would have never happened,” and, “I trusted Tim.”

However, far from receiving the significant return on investment that he was promised, Mohd says he received only his original $300,000 investment back a month after the promised 18-month turnaround time. Mohd is now suing the pair for fraud, seeking $780,000. Mynett and Hailer have denied the accusation, claiming that the outcome was simply the product of “the economic conditions of the industry,” according to the Reformer.

Wine was not the only business venture of Mynett and Hailer that went sour. The Minnesota Reformer also reported that three companies belonging to Hailer and Mynett owe $1.2 million out of a total $1.7 million settlement to three entrepreneurs from South Dakota who sued for fraud and breach of contract related to promises by Hailer that his eSt Ventures company could triple the entrepreneurs’ capital to fund marijuana growing and testing operations. Mynett told the Reformer that he left eSt Ventures in 2022 because he was no longer actively involved in the company’s work. He was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit that led to the settlement.

Business failures aside, Samuels’ remarks particularly focused on Mynett’s and Hailer’s consultancy firm and its involvement in Omar’s campaign. Prior to ending her relationship with her husband’s consulting firm in November 2020, Omar had paid out $2.78 million to the firm. $1.1 million of those funds were paid out between July and October 2020, mere months after Omar married Mynett in March of that same year.

Samuels did not hold back in his remarks on Omar’s spending of funds and Mynett’s business dealings. “Unfortunately, this story is just the latest scandal in a string of news stories about Rep. Omar that narrows the focus on her and brings us further from the type of progress our district and our country need around issues that affect the lives of our neighbors,” Samuels declared. “Rep. Omar has used her three terms in Congress — what many would consider the opportunity and honor of a lifetime — to divide our community and enrich herself in the process.”

Samuels previously ran in the Democratic primary against Omar in 2022, losing by only a two percent margin and by less than 2,500 votes, despite spending only half as much money as Omar.

Omar’s communications director Jacklyn Rogers issued a statement to Fox 9 in response to Samuels’ conference, referring to the allegations as “clearly a politically motivated attack” which “reeks of desperation from a campaign that is struggling to gain momentum.” Rogers added that “Rep. Omar has no involvement in any business ventures.”


Evan Poellinger

Evan Poellinger, the Alpha News Summer 2024 Journalism Fellow, is a native Minnesotan with a lifelong passion for history and politics. He previously worked as a journalism intern with the American Spectator and an investigative journalism fellow with the Media Research Center. He is a graduate of College of the Holy Cross with degrees in political science and history.