DFL still seeking law enforcement review of Ellison allegation

Updated 3:21 p.m. Wednesday | Posted 1:08 p.m.

The DFL Party is still seeking a law enforcement agency to review an allegation of domestic abuse against Rep. Keith Ellison, after their own contracted review could not substantiate the allegation.

On Wednesday, party officials asked Minneapolis police to review the matter, but the department declined "due to a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest."

Their denial comes after two other agencies refused to take on the case. The party initially asked the Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal to review the case, but she cited her own potential conflict of interest -- Ellison's son, Jeremiah, is a member of the Minneapolis City Council, which oversees the city attorney's office.

Segal then asked Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom to review the Ellison file. However, in a letter, Backstrom said he would only conduct a review if a formal complaint is submitted.

Karen Monahan, Ellison's ex-girlfriend, said that in 2016 the six-term congressman grabbed her by the foot and tried to pull her off a bed while he screamed obscenities. She said she took video on her phone of the incident but has declined to release the footage. Ellison has denied the allegation and said the video doesn't exist.

There was no complaint filed of the alleged incident at the time.

"I will agree to review the matter on a conflict of interest basis for you," Backstrom wrote. "However, I will not review any investigation completed by the law firm retained by the Minnesota DFL Party or any other private investigator without the completion of an investigation by a law enforcement agency."

The allegations have dogged Ellison, now the DFL nominee for attorney general. The DFL Party hired an attorney to review the allegation after Ellison prevailed in a five-way primary election in August. A draft of that investigation, released to the Associated Press on Monday, said Monahan's claims were "unsubstantiated" because she refused to release the video or allow the attorney to view it privately.

But DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said they planned to forward the investigation on to local law enforcement as an impartial last word on the investigation.

Ellison is in a tight race for attorney general against Republican Doug Wardlow, a lawyer and former state representative from Eagan.

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