U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison accused of domestic violence; he denies it

August 12, 2018

An ex-girlfriend of U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison has accused him of domestic violence, which Ellison a DFL candidate for Minnesota attorney general denied on Sunday.

The alleged incident between Ellison and Karen Monahan came to light Saturday night after her son posted about it on Facebook. She then confirmed it on Twitter. Ellison responded Sunday in a statement released by his campaign.

Karen and I were in a relationship which ended in 2016, and I still care deeply for her well-being, the statement said. He is running for Minnesota attorney general in the DFL primary on Tuesday.

Monahans son, Austin Aslim Monahan, posted that he watched a video on her computer in which Ellison could be seen dragging Monahan off a bed as he screamed profanities at her.

Ellison denied the existence of the video.

This video does not exist because I never behaved in this way, and any characterization otherwise is false, his statement read.

A Star Tribune reporter went to Karen Monahans apartment on Sunday, and spoke through a call-box to a woman who said yes when asked if she was Karen. She said she was not ready to talk and was focused on her children and family at the moment. This is a really difficult time, she said.

On her Twitter account Saturday night, Karen Monahan wrote: That was my son who posted it and its true. He wouldnt lie about his own mom.

She reiterated that Sunday afternoon, tweeting: Every statement he made was true.@keithellison, you know you did that to me. I have given every opportunity to get help and heal. Even now, u r willing to say my son is lying and have me continue to leak more text and info just so others will believe him.

Austin Aslim Monahan said in an interview Saturday night that he was not in possession of the video that he said he saw in 2017. He stood by the veracity of his Facebook post.

I only know what I saw and I know whats true, he said. It was my job to stand up for my mother.

Of Ellison, he said: I have no reason to tear down this man.

A search of court records found no reports of any incidents between Monahan and Ellison. Monahan, who is an organizer for the Sierra Club, has made numerous Twitter posts in recent weeks about being in an abusive relationship, and more broadly about the MeToo movement; but before Saturday, she never identified Ellison in those posts.

Minnesota Public Radio News reported Sunday that it had reviewed more than 100 texts and Twitter messages between Ellison and Monahan that she provided to the station. None included any evidence of the alleged abuse, according to the report, characterizing some as friendly and others as more combative.

Ellisons ex-wife, Kim Ellison, defended him on Sunday in an e-mail message sent to journalists. Kim Ellison is a member of the Minneapolis Board of Education.

I want members of our community to know that the behavior described does not match the character of the Keith I know, Kim Ellisons statement said. Keith has inspired many, and I think its fair for people to want answers to the claims theyve heard. Ill be putting my faith in my experience with Keith.

Kim Ellison also listed recent examples of spending time with Keith and their children. Their son Jeremiah Ellison is a member of the Minneapolis City Council, elected last year.

We may be divorced, but we are still a family, she wrote in the e-mail.

Ellison is one of five candidates for attorney general in Tuesdays primary. The others are attorney Matt Pelikan, state Rep. Debra Hilstrom, former Ramsey County Attorney Tom Foley and former state commerce commissioner Mike Rothman. Before Ellison made his statement, Pelikan, Hilstrom and Foley all called on Ellison to respond to the allegations.

Domestic Violence is never ok, Hilstrom wrote on Twitter. The incidents described are troubling.

The likely Republican candidate for attorney general, Doug Wardlow, also weighed in, tweeting that Minnesotans deserve answers.

Leni Moore, a supporter of Ellisons who donated to his campaign, said Sunday the allegation does not shake her backing for him and belief he would be a good attorney general. She said it is unclear what exactly happened and what the circumstances were.

I think this is completely unfair for this to be brought up now. And its not only unfair, its out of line, Moore, of Minneapolis, said.

Ellison, an attorney first elected to Congress in 2006, has risen to national prominence in recent years as a leading spokesman for progressive causes. He unsuccessfully ran for chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 2017, subsequently accepting an appointment as the partys deputy national chairman, which he still holds.

Given his popularity in progressive circles and high name recognition, Ellison has widely been seen as front-runner in Tuesdays attorney general primary.

Star Tribune staff writers Jessie Van Berkel and Jeremy Olson contributed to this story.

Maya Rao 612-673-4210

J. Patrick Coolican 651-925-5042

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