Ilhan Omar Challenger Hands Hubby Thousands in Donor Money

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty/Facebook
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty/Facebook

Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Republican challenger has poured tens of thousands of dollars from her no-chance but well-funded campaign into a company belonging to her husband, The Daily Beast has found.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, the husband of Republican candidate Cicely Davis confessed that his firm has received extensive payments from his wife’s campaign to defeat Omar in the deeply Democratic Minneapolis district. Bradley Ross Ireland, who has run a string of troubled Minnesota bars, said he has served as the campaign’s primary graphic designer—a role that nets him $100 to $200 per hour, depending on the exact task he performs.

“We’ve been doing everything from branding of her campaign, marketing, design of flyers, design of builders, design of literally everything,” he said, acknowledging that he is presently the company’s only employee.

The most recent disclosures Davis has made with the Federal Election Commission show her congressional bid has paid at least $35,475 for “campaign consulting” to a company called “BR, Inc.” with an address at a condominium unit in the Elliot Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. But Minnesota incorporation records show no entity of that name registered anywhere in the state, and the owner of the apartment told The Daily Beast she had never heard of the firm.

However, public records show Ireland resided in a unit with a number just one digit different from that listed for the company in the filing—and he confirmed on the phone his company Bradley Ross, Inc. was the company in question.

The campaign did not respond to repeated questions about why it had listed the payments to Bradley Ross, Inc. in this manner—or to any other queries from The Daily Beast. A voicemail and text messages left at a number listed for Davis went unanswered.

Ireland conceded that he had no history of working for political campaigns, but maintained he has three decades of relevant experience in marketing and design. He also alleged he was not the ultimate recipient of all of the funds paid to his firm, but had to pay nearly half the money to billboard and T-shirt manufacturing subcontractors.

He also claimed he had replaced earlier graphic designers the campaign had retained, who he said had failed to produce. However, he refused to name these companies, and the campaign filings do not show any payments to a graphic design firm prior to the first disbursement to Ireland’s company in April.

“What you need is somebody that you can trust. What you got with me is somebody you can trust to get the job done, period,” he said.

Campaign finance law does not forbid candidates from compensating themselves or family members for services, so long as all payments are market rate. The wages Ireland reported garnering from the campaign vastly outstrip the average hourly earnings of graphic designers, which—according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics—rarely break $40 an hour even in costliest parts of the country.

However, experts said that professional political vendors do often receive a comparable amount.

“It’s not out of the ordinary for political design firms to be charging that much,” said Jordan Libowitz, communications director of the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “Whether his work calls for that rate is another question.”

Libowitz characterized Davis’s decision to retain her husband’s services as “not wonderful,” but unfortunately not uncommon. The campaign could run afoul of regulations if it intentionally obscured the recipient of the payments, but the good government advocate said it was impossible to tell if the incorrect address and truncation of the name of Ireland’s firm was deliberate or just “amateurishness” and “sloppiness.”

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (C) and her husband, Tim Mynett (L), speak with campaign volunteer Brock Spies (R) while campaigning at the Richfield Farmers Market in 2020.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Stephen Maturen/Getty</div>

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (C) and her husband, Tim Mynett (L), speak with campaign volunteer Brock Spies (R) while campaigning at the Richfield Farmers Market in 2020.

Stephen Maturen/Getty

However, the choice is ironic, given conservative online outrage over Omar’s own payments to the consulting firm of her now-husband, Tim Mynett, which prompted a failed federal complaint in 2019 by the right-wing National Legal & Policy Center.

Davis’s own former campaign manager once raged on social media about Omar’s interfamilial spending habits.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.