Steve Drazkowski is a Minnesota State Representative whose district includes Dodge, Goodhue, Wabasha and Winona counties in the southeastern part of the state. Drazkowski, a Republican, came to national attention after he filed a complaint against Ilhan Omar, the freshman US representative from Minnesota. Drazkowski is charging that Omar used thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to pay her personal lawyer and to cover her international travel expenses. Minnesota’s campaign finance board has been investigating the charges and is due to announce their findings soon.
Here’s what you need to know about Steve Drazkowski:
1. Drazkowski Claims that Ilhan Omar Used Campaign Funds to Help Pay for Her Divorce & to Cover Immigration Expenses
Drazkowski has filed at least two complaints against Ilhan Omar with the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board. He charges that Omar has mis-spent at least $6,000 of her campaign funds on personal projects, including on paying off her personal lawyer. Drazkowski says that part of the $6,000 went to pay Omar’s divorce lawyer. A news release from Drazkowski’s office says:
“According to statements made to the CFB by attorney Carla Kjellberg, Omar’s payment to Kjellberg’s law office was reimbursed for services that the Kjellberg firm initially paid for on behalf of the Omar Committee, which would be a violation of state law. Additionally, it appears that the reimbursed expenses may have been related to tax preparation and legal expenses related to immigration. Probable cause was found in this complaint, and that case continues to be formally investigated by the CFB.”
Omar has been married three times, to two different men. For the past few years, she has been at the center of a series of bizarre allegations of marriage fraud and perjury. Omar married her first husband, Ahmed Hirsi, back in 2002 when she was 19. She and Hirsi applied for a marriage license but eventually decided not to have a legal ceremony; instead, they got married according to their “faith tradition,” according to a statement from Omar’s campaign last August. The couple had two children together and then split up, again through a religious ceremony. Later, Omar married Ahmed Nur Said Elmi. Some media have reported that Elmi was, in fact, Omar’s brother, but they have not offered any proof, and Omar has always denied this. In 2012, Omar divorced Elmi and remarried her first husband, Ahmed Hirsi. They now have three children together.
2. Drazkowski Says Omar Also Spent $3,000 Traveling to Estonia & to Boston
In a complaint filed with the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board, Drazkowski said that Omar’s own year-end report revealed that she had used more than $3,000 dollars from her campaign to fund her own travel. He charged that Omar had spent campaign dollars on a trip to Estonia and on plane tickets to Massachusetts, so that Omar could participate in a rally for Boston City Council candidate Deego Jibril.
Drazkowski also charges that Omar’s Committee has been fined more than $2,000 for campaign finance violations related to late filings of campaign finance reports and a statement of economic interest. In a press release, Drazkowski says that the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board responded to him by writing, “The Omar Committee’s 2017 year-end report shows several noncampaign disbursements for out-of-state travel for Rep. Omar to attend various events.” It also states: “The information on the committee’s 2017 year-end report does not indicate how attendance at these events would have helped Rep. Omar in the performance of her legislative duties.”
3. Drazkowski Was Once Charged With Assaulting His Teenage Daughter & Was Later Acquitted
Back in 2006, before he was elected as a Minnesota state representative, Drazkowski was arrested and charged with assault. Drazkowski is divorced; he and his ex-wife, Laura, have one child, a daughter named Kinsey. In October 2008, Drazkowski was accused of “grabbing his 14-year-old daughter in a threatening way” while they were in an argument. Prosecutors said that Drazkowski grabbed Kinsey by the shirt and hoisted her into the air while yelling in her face. Police who reported to the scene said that the girl was distraught and said she was scared of her father. Police arrested him, and he was charged with assault. Drazkowski was acquitted, but the judge slapped him with a temporary restraining order, so that he could not go near his daughter.
Drazkowski said at the time that the experience left him angry at the child protection system in Minnesota. He said the system was “fundamentally flawed” and went “too far.”
“Upon my election to the state senate, I will work diligently to reform our child protection laws, so that we can prevent these breaches of justice in the future,” he said. “We must encourage common sense parenting in which children are held accountable for their actions. The current system is failing our families, tying up our courts and leaving the taxpayers to hold the bag.”
4. Drazkowski Grew Up on a Farm in Wisconsin
Drazkowski was born in 1964 in Winona, Minnesota. His family moved to Wisconsin, where he grew up on a farm in Bluff Siding. Drazkowski went on to graduate from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, earning a B.S. in Agriculture. Drazkowski’s biography says that before he was elected, he was the co-owner of an online retail business specializing in decor and gifts.
5. Drazkowski Says Taxes & Health Care Reform Are His Biggest Issues
Drazkowski, a Republican, was first elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2007. Drazkowski has said his biggest issues are taxes and health care reform; the representative says he wants to give taxpayers more discretion over what kind of healthcare they pay for, and more choice about their coverage. He has also said that issues like internet access are not very important, insisting that people who choose to live in rural Minnesota don’t care about having high speed internet.
“I choose to live where I choose to live,” he said, during a debate with his Democratic challenger last year. “If I wanted to move where there’s hyperspeeds, I’d move to the middle of Minneapolis.”