Ilhan Omar was married to a Somali-British citizen in 2009, and separated from him a couple years later.
They never finalized a divorce, despite Omar's rekindling a long-term relationship with another man, now the father of Omar's three children.
The man Omar remains legally married to isn't her brother, despite recent claims that spread like wildfire through right-wing blogs.
In a statement issued Wednesday evening, Omar, the clear favorite to win a legislative seat in a heavily Democratic district of Minneapolis, addressed the allegations that she'd engaged in a marriage that was either fraudulent or bigamous. She also tried to clear the air about her relationship with Ahmed Hirsi, the man she now lives with.
As Omar explained in the statement, she ended her first marriage to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi in a religious ceremony in 2011. Elmi than moved back to the United Kingdom, where he's from originally, and Omar later reunited with Ahmed Hirsi.
Omar and Hirsi had previously been together for years, and were also married "in the faith tradition," and divorced in the same way. Her statement says she and Hirsi are now, again, "married in our faith tradition," and are happily raising their three children.
The complex nature of Omar's romantic life was first brought to light by the conservative Power Line blog. Questions raised there were then asked by the Star Tribune. Both outlets tried to reach Omar for an explanation, and neither had its request fully satisifed. (Omar's campaign manager communicated with the Star Tribune; Power Line received a statement authored by an attorney.) Omar's new statements on the rumors are her most expansive to date.
Power Line's most explosive allegation -- and the one that was so happily lapped up by other conservative blogs -- was that Elmi, her first (and, legally, current) husband is also Omar's brother. Omar's statement takes on its strongest tone in answering that claim.
"Insinuations that Ahmed Nur Said Elmi is my brother are absurd and offensive," she says.
Omar, 33, is in line to become the first Somali-American elected to any state legislature in the United States. Earlier this month, she survived a grueling primary election campaign to defeat Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, one of the longest-serving incumbents in Minnesota political history. Accusations about her mysterious personal life hit the web before her election result was even officially certified.
Here's Omar's full statement:
“A number of baseless rumors have been made recently about my personal life and family. I will say it again here: they are absolutely false and ridiculous.
That said, I will offer clarity and share a difficult part of my personal history that I did not consider relevant in the context of a political campaign, so that we can put these rumors to rest and return to what really matters: how we join together to build a more prosperous and equitable district and state.
In 2002, when I was 19 years old, Ahmed Hirsi (whose name before he received citizenship was Ahmed Aden), the father of my children and love of my life, and I, applied for a marriage license, but we never finalized the application and thus were never legally married. In 2008, we decided to end our relationship in our faith tradition after reaching an impasse in our life together.
I entered into a relationship with a British citizen, Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, and married him legally in 2009. Our relationship ended in 2011 and we divorced in our faith tradition. After that, he moved home to England. I have yet to legally divorce Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, but am in the process of doing so. Insinuations that Ahmed Nur Said Elmi is my brother are absurd and offensive.
Since 2011, I am happy to say that I have reconciled with Ahmed Hirsi, we have married in our faith tradition and are raising our family together. Like all families, we have had our ups and downs but we are proud to have come through it together.
I appreciate the countless messages of support I have received from the people of 60B and beyond who understand how difficult and deeply personal this has been for my family and especially my children. I remain honored to be a part of a campaign that is uniting the diverse voices of our district – long term residents, East African immigrants and students.”