Ellison accuses woman of blackmailing his congressional campaign

Keith Ellison
Keith Ellison, the DFL candidate for the 5th Congressional District race.
MPR Photo/Tom Scheck

It's the latest twist in a dispute that's been simmering for well over a year, and it comes just a few weeks ahead of the November election.

The motion accuses Alexander of harassing Ellison, and of working with freelance writer Mesa Kincaid, who allegedly tried to extort $10,000, the Star Tribune reported Thursday.

Ellison, a state representative seeking the 5th District congressional seat, obtained a restraining order himself last year to keep Alexander away from him and his family.

His motion Wednesday accuses Alexander of seeking her restraining order "as the culmination of her frustrated blackmail scheme and her long-standing, invidious efforts to damage" Ellison.

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The motion also says Ellison's campaign manager, Dave Colling, received numerous phone calls from Kincaid starting in August. It says Kincaid identified herself as a freelance reporter and "recounted vague allegations by Alexander against Rep. Ellison personally as well as allegations that he was having romantic affairs with numerous people."

Reached by the Star Tribune late Wednesday, Kincaid, a former local radio personality, laughed and said Colling's characterization of their conversations was "completely false."

Kincaid told the newspaper she called Colling because she wanted to talk to Ellison about a story about Alexander. "I never spoke of money or anything to Dave Colling," she said. "There are no legs to this."

Colling said Kincaid first contacted him in early August. He said he didn't bring the matter to authorities because "it was near the end of the (primary election) campaign" and he "just wanted her to go away."

Alexander declined to comment Wednesday, though she gave a 90 minute interview to the newspaper Saturday.

Her lawyer, Steve Baker, said, "This is just another example of Keith Ellison's attempt to deny my client her right to a fair hearing with her own counsel in court."

The dispute apparently dates back at least to May 2005.

Alexander claims that Ellison told her during the DFL Party's city convention she would not be getting a job at Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota, a group with which he was affiliated.

Alexander says Ellison called her a name and told her: "You don't have the job. I can't control you."

In her request for a restraining order, Alexander claims Ellison went to her house the next week, grabbed her and verbally abused her, threatened her, and broke the screen door on his way out.

Ellison says he has never been to her house and never assaulted her, although he knew Alexander was upset about not getting the job.

Ellison was granted a two-year restraining order against Alexander in June 2005. Alexander filed her petition for a restraining order Sept. 5, 2006, even though the incident was 16 months old. The order was denied, but she was granted a hearing now set for Nov. 20.

In an interview with the Star Tribune on Saturday, she named several people she said had witnessed or could otherwise back up incidents that were evidence of her relationship with Ellison. The newspaper said none of those people it contacted corroborated her claims.

The newspaper reported that Alexander also said in the interview she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder because Ellison called her "fat" daily for the first few months of 2005.

Baker, Alexander's lawyer, said his client was a "troubled young woman," but declined to elaborate. He also threatened legal action against the Star Tribune over the interview, the newspaper reported.

The Star Tribune said that when two of its reporters went to her house on Saturday, she invited them in. On Monday, it said, she called police and claimed the newspaper was harassing her.