A former key aide to Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in Iowa went on to work as a consultant for Feeding Our Future, a nonprofit that federal prosecutors say was at the center of the biggest relief program fraud in the event of a pandemic in the country.
Abshir Omar was also deputy director of a non-profit organization called Tasho which ran six food distribution sites – sponsored by Feeding Our Future – which reported serving 4,000 meals a day. He and the nonprofit have not been charged with any crime. Reached on the phone, Omar said he didn’t have time to talk and hung up.
Sanders made Omar his Iowa political director after Omar ran for Des Moines City Council in 2017. At the time, Sanders tweeted“I’m proud to have Abshir Omar on our team fighting for a political revolution.”
So far, the US Department of Justice has charged about 50 people with a nearly $250 million federal child nutrition program in Minnesota. Instead of providing 125 million meals, they instead bought luxury cars, homes, jewelry and resort properties overseas, prosecutors said.
Omar, whose involvement in Feeding Our Future has not previously been reported, joins other prominent political operatives linked to the scandal. A former senior political aide to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and former chairman of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority – appointed by Frey and the city council – have been charged.
During the pandemic, the US Department of Agriculture waived some of its requirements in order to quickly provide free food to starving children. Sponsoring organizations such as Feeding Our Future were responsible for channeling federal money to food sites and monitoring their compliance.
Prosecutors allege that Feeding Our Future employees recruited people to open food sites, then falsely claimed to serve meals to thousands of children a day, just days or weeks after they were trained.
In exchange, Feeding Our Future fraudulently received more than $18 million in administrative fees, according to the DOJ. They say Feeding Our Future opened over 250 locations statewide and fraudulently disbursed over $240 million.
The federal investigation became public in January, when the FBI raided homes and seized property in an attempt to stop the bleeding of federal money. At the time, WCCO went to Feeding Our Future headquarters in St. Anthony for comment, where Omar told them he was a consultant for the nonprofit.
Omar also participated in a protest in June 2021 outside the Minnesota Department of Education office in Roseville, where dozens of people protested the department’s delay in approving applications for even more drug distribution sites. food.
“Feed my children!” they chanted outside the building.
Feeding Our Future Executive Director Aimee Bock said KSTP they were protesting that the state did not approve the applications of many of Feeding Our Future’s “community partners”.
As an example, she cited Tasho, a nonprofit that she said helped 1,600 children a week. She said double the number could be helped if only the MDE approved their application for the pandemic program.
Omar, portrayed in the story as assistant manager of Tasho, is shown leading chants outside the MDE.
“We are very limited in our abilities,” he told the television station. “The need is far greater than what we can do today.”
Tasho is listed on an MDE spreadsheet of program distribution sites. The spreadsheet says Tasho had six feeding sites and was serving 4,000 children a day by the end of 2021, overseen by Feeding Our Future.
Federal prosecutors say Bock oversaw the massive scheme enacted by Feeding Our Future-sponsored food sites, receiving a 10-15% administrative fee in return.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said at a Sept. 20 press conference to announce the indictments that it was the “first set of charges.”
Omar wrote in a Blog that he fled Somalia in the 1990s during the civil war that claimed the lives of his father, brother, brother-in-law and other family members. He wrote that he attended Iowa State University and became involved in politics in 2016, when Donald Trump threatened a “Muslim ban”. This inspired him to run unsuccessfully for Des Moines City Council, where he was the city’s first Somali Muslim refugee candidate.
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