Surprised? Democrats find abuse claims against Keith Ellison ‘unsubstantiated’
Minnesota Democrats met with plenty of skepticism Monday after a party-led investigation into domestic-abuse allegations against Democrat Rep. Keith Ellison concluded that the claims were “unsubstantiated.”
Susan Ellingstad, a Minneapolis attorney hired by the Minnesota Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party, said her internal investigation was “unable to substantiate the claim of physical abuse” made by Karen Monahan, Mr. Ellison’s ex-girlfriend, according to the report leaked to the Associated Press.
Minnesota DFL chairman Ken Martin said in a statement afterward to media outlets that the party would forward the 15-page report to local authorities “to let them review the contents and determine whether further investigation is warranted.”
His decision did little to squelch perceptions that the probe was hopelessly conflicted, given that Ms. Ellingstad is a law partner of DFL attorney Charlie Nauen, and Mr. Ellison serves as deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
“I don’t know why anyone would be surprised by that. The Democratic Party hires lawyers close to the Democratic Party to investigate a sensitive candidate, and they come back saying ‘not enough here,'” said University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs. “I don’t think that was surprising.”
Also unsurprised by the outcome was Ms. Monahan, who said she “didn’t expect to be heard, believed or validated,” even though she released 2017 medical records, therapy notes, text messages and statements from four other people confirming that she “shared the abuse with them.”
She has accused Mr. Ellison of “emotional and physical abuse” stemming from their long-term relationship, which ended in 2016, culminating in an incident in which she says he dragged her from bed by her foot and screamed obscenities at her.
Ms. Monahan also tweeted Monday that she gave the investigator text messages between her and “one of the other females he was sleeping with (putting all of our health at risk), discussing the times, dates we had been with him.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Ellison thanked the DFL for “taking this issue seriously and requesting this investigation.”
“I understand that Susan Ellingstad’s independent investigation has found the allegation against me by my former partner unsubstantiated,” he said in a statement. “I want to thank Ms. Ellingstad for conducting this thorough, independent, and fair review, and I thank everyone who spoke with her for participating.”
His Republican opponent for Minnesota attorney general, former state Rep. Doug Wardlow, blasted the investigation as a “sham,” insisting that the “credible and substantiated domestic violence claims against Keith Ellison demonstrate that he is unfit to be Minnesota’s Attorney General.
“As predicted, the sham ‘investigation’ led by the DFL party attorney’s legal partner has concluded in favor of the party’s Attorney General candidate,” said Mr. Wardlow in a statement. “But the publicly available evidence contradicts that conclusion.”
Ms. Monahan’s son Austin said Aug. 11 on Facebook that he had watched a video of Mr. Ellison dragging his mother from the bed, but Ms. Monahan has refused to release the video, saying it would violate her privacy.
Without the video, the report concluded that it was impossible to substantiate her allegations, especially when weighed against Mr. Ellison’s “vehement denial.”
“While I understand Ms. Monahan’s rationale of not wanting to succumb to the bullying and pressure to prove her story, I nonetheless find that dangling dispositive proof of a serious allegation and then withholding it from the investigator unavoidably creates doubt about the allegation,” said the report.
Mr. Ellison asked the House Ethics Committee last week to conduct an investigation into the allegations, but Republicans scoffed at his request, noting that he will no longer serve in Congress come January and that such a probe will unlikely wrap up by the Nov. 6 election.
Republican state Sen. Karin Housley, who is running against Democratic Sen. Tina Smith, called Monday on the Minnesota attorney general’s office to conduct its own probe.
“Recent calls for a congressional ethics investigation, made by Keith Ellison and echoed by my opponent, amount to nothing more than political cover; Ellison will have left Congress by the time an investigation could be completed,” said Ms. Housley.
“These are serious, recent, and substantiated allegations that deserve immediate attention and raise significant doubts about Keith Ellison’s fitness to serve as Minnesota’s chief legal officer,” she said in a statement.
In 2006, Amy Alexander accused Mr. Ellison of losing his temper, pushing her and breaking her screen door. He has denied the allegation and accused her of harassing him, pointing out that he won a restraining order against her.
Ms. Ellingstad said in the report she focused only on Monahan allegations against Mr. Ellison, and also did not investigate “any past relationships of Ms. Monahan.”
Ms. Housley has criticized the Democratic senator for continuing to support Mr. Ellison while calling for a “full FBI investigation” into sexual-assault allegations levied against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, which he has denied.
Ms. Smith, who said last month she would vote against the Kavanaugh nomination, said in a statement Monday that such allegations “always need to be taken seriously.”
“We are at a pivotal moment in this country, one that’s been coming for a long time,” said Ms. Smith. “I believe that allegations of misconduct always need to be taken seriously–and I’m glad they finally are. I’ve also always believed that we need to take time to look into accusations and that everyone deserves a process so that we can get to the truth.”
Ms. Monahan hinted Monday that she had more to say about the issue.
“There is so much more to be revealed when this is all over,” tweeted Ms. Monahan. “Let’s continue to let things unfold.”
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