Ellison seeks ethics probe into abuse allegation

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. Tim Pugmire | MPR News

Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison said Wednesday that he will ask the House Ethics Committee to investigate domestic violence allegations involving an ex-girlfriend, a claim that has become a big topic in his pursuit of Minnesota attorney general's office.

In a statement first issued to Buzzfeed News, Ellison said the allegations have lingered too long "and remain unsubstantiated."

"I am taking this step now because I am innocent and eager to see this entire matter resolved," Ellison said in the statement released by his House office rather than his campaign.

In August, former girlfriend Karen Monahan went public with a claim that Ellison pulled her from a bed in the home they shared. She has said the incident was captured on video but she hasn't released footage; Monahan has distributed medical records from 2017 in which she tells a provider of health concerns she contends stem from her strained relationship with Ellison.

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The abuse allegation has drown out other issues in Ellison's campaign for attorney general and caused Republicans to accuse their Democratic counterparts of a double standard as Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has come under fire for alleged sexual misconduct.

The Minnesota DFL Party hired a Minneapolis law firm that it has used before in election matters to look into the Ellison matter. A report is expected soon.

In a statement to MPR News, Monahan said "how the political parties move forward is their choice. I have stated over and over my intentions and how I have moved forward and I continue to do so."

"The smears and fabrications that have been spread in the community and media about me are not about a politics of justice and humanity, in fact they are cruel and mean spirited," she added. "We live in a shamed based society, us vs. them, which does not allow the victims or perpetrator to come forward, to heal and find support in that journey."

Ellison, who is also deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said he has complied with that party-commissioned probe and welcomes additional scrutiny by House colleagues. Ellison is leaving Congress at the end of the year after seven terms, so it's unclear if the committee could wrap up an investigation before then.

In a statement late Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said "it is appropriate" that the Ethics committee "conduct an expedited investigation of this matter as Congressman Ellison has requested."

Doug Wardlow, Ellison's Republican opponent in the attorney general race, said he also welcomes "any open and honest investigation" into the allegations of Monahan as well as a second woman who accused Ellison of abuse many years earlier. That earlier case resulted in a court restraining order that bars the woman, Amy Alexander, from repeating her claims against Ellison.

"The allegations against Keith Ellison are serious, troubling and would be criminal," Wardlow said in a written statement, which refers to both cases.

The cloud around Ellison has caused a delicate situation for other Democrats on Minnesota's ticket, with some remaining quiet about the allegations or seldom appearing with another DFL nominee.

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, the party's nominee for governor, issued a statement through his congressional office saying he supports the call for an ethics probe.

"Congressman Ellison calling for this independent investigation is the appropriate thing to do," Walz said. "My hope is it will be conducted in an expeditious and transparent manner. I have consistently supported investigations into sexual harassment and abuse, and I will continue to do so."