During his six terms in Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., often has been described in less than flattering terms. “Abuser” is a new one. Last Saturday, Ellison, who also is the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), was accused by the adult son of a former girlfriend of committing extreme domestic abuse during the relationship. The son posted a comment on Facebook during which he referred to a video allegedly showing Ellison dragging the woman, Karen Monahan, off a bed and screaming obscenities. The congressman, who this Tuesday won his party’s primary for Minnesota attorney general, denies all allegations. “This video does not exist because I have never behaved in this way, and any characterization otherwise is false,” he stated. Yet the body of evidence might not work in his favor. And there is a second female accuser with a story to tell.
Keith Ellison, who turned 55 this month, has a lot of political capital to lose if this allegation is true. First elected to Congress in 2006, succeeding the retiring (and now deceased) Democrat Martin Sabo, Ellison was well-known for having converted to Islam while in college. Voters in the hyper-liberal 5th District of Minnesota, which covers Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs, don’t seem to mind. They elected him by a wide margin in 2006 over his Republican opponent and did likewise in the next five election cycles. During his tenure, Ellison reliably has championed causes near and dear to the progressive faithful. In 2007 he even co-sponsored a bill introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” His standing in his party rose ever higher in February 2017 at the Democratic National Committee Winter Meeting in Atlanta. After losing a close race for DNC chairman to former Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Ellison was nominated by Perez for deputy chairman. Delegates approved the nomination by a voice vote. Nothing better exemplifies the radicalization of the Democrats during the past decade than the ascension of Thomas Perez and Keith Ellison to the party’s top two posts.
The 5th Congressional District of Minnesota, however, is not the entire state. And a number of residents, despite their famed “Minnesota nice” sensibility, might not be supportive in light of recent claims that Ellison has been a violent sociopath in his private life. A young man named Austin Monahan is asserting that the congressman on at least one occasion physically terrorized his mother, Karen Monahan, during the course of their relationship, which ended in 2016. Mr. Monahan, now 25, supplied the details in an August 11 Facebook post:
My name is Austin Monahan and I am writing this letter on behalf of me and my brother.
My brother and I watched our mom come out of pure hell after getting out of her relationship with Keith Ellison. For several months we knew something wasn’t right and couldn’t figure it out. When we asked our mom if everything was ok, she told us she was dealing with some stress and would be okay.
In the middle of 2017, I was using my mom’s computer trying to download something and I clicked on a file (and) found over 100 text and twitter messages and video almost 2 min long that showed Keith Ellison dragging my mama off the bed by her feet, screaming and calling her a “f*cking bitch” and telling her to get the f*ck out of his house. The messages I found were mixed with him consistently telling my mom he wanted her back, he missed her, he knew he f*ucked and (he) wished he could do things different, he would victim shaming, bully her, and threaten her if she went public. I text him and told him I know what you did to my mama and a few other things.
A disillusioned Austin Monahan then announced the loss of his political virginity:
I use (sic) to believe the Democrats were the ones who would stand by a person who went through this kind of abuse, now I know both Democrats and Republicans could care less when it comes to violence toward women and girls.
I have learned a lot about how patriarchy has shaped me as a 25 year old through all this. I just became a father and I am working on how patriarchy influenced thoughts and decisions I have made as a young man so I can teach my son better. I am starting today by standing by my mom, my son’s grandma. It is not just on women and girls to speak out, it is on men to do some of the emotional work. I’m not here to prove sh*t to anyone, I’m just stating facts. You can take it or leave it.
Austin Monahan can be faulted on grounds of grammar and political wisdom, but his accusations ring true. There is simply too much detail, rendered in a confessional voice, to dismiss out of hand.
His mother, for one, is in his corner. In a series of tweets sent during the wee hours of Sunday morning, she expressed her support from the address of @KarenMonahan01. In one case, she wrote: “That is my son who bravely shared that post. He isn’t lying about anything. This has nothing to do with trump or politics to us. It is about abuse and the person just (sic) so happened to be a politicians (sic).” Two minutes later, she affirmed this position in another tweet. “That was my son who posted and it’s true. He wouldn’t lie about his own mom.”
Apparently, there is a second woman who had a bad experience with Congressman Ellison. The woman, Amy Alexander, asserts that over a dozen years ago, while Ellison was still married, he physically assaulted her. A transcript of a “911” emergency call by Alexander dated May 16, 2005, 9:17 P.M., redacted her name, but a phone records search by investigative reporter Laura Loomer confirmed that Ms. Alexander was the caller. What’s more, she lived at 1403 Washington Street NE in Minneapolis when the alleged attack occurred, the very address indicated in the police report. The report also contained this shorthand message: “CLR RPTG WAS ASLT’D BYELLISON KEITH/BLACK/MALE/41/WEARING SUIT LS LEAVING APT…UNK DIR…NO EMS NEEDED…CLR WANTS TO SEE SQD.” Future Congressman Ellison, in fact, was 41 at the time.
Ms. Alexander wasn’t a shrinking violet. On October 11, 2006, while Ellison was making his first run for Congress, a newspaper, the Wright County Republican, published an article she had written, “Coming Out of the Dark: Breaking the Silence About the Anointed Candidate.” Alexander wrote that her affair with Ellison began in 1993 while she was a Democratic Party activist, but deteriorated quickly after that. Indeed, she moved out of state for a while to get away from him. But the passions never quite left, and they would maintain an on-and-off relationship until their breakup in 2004. Things came to a head the following May, when Ellison arrived at her house uninvited and then assaulted her. That’s what prompted Alexander’s “911” phone call. She recalled:
In May, Keith wanted to try and quiet me so he came to my house uninvited. We had words. His anger kicked in. He berated me. He grabbed me and pushed me out of the way. I was terrified. I called the police. As he fled he broke my screen door. I have never been so scared.
It looks as though Keith Ellison needed anger management classes even back then.
Rep. Keith Ellison, who has been divorced since 2012 and has four adult children, takes issue with the accusers. In particular, he denies having abused Karen Monahan, adding that her son’s claim of the existence of an incriminating video hasn’t been independently verified. He admits that his relationship with her on occasion was tempestuous, but adds, “I still care deeply for her well-being.” Kim Ellison, the congressman’s ex-wife, readily defends him. In a statement emailed to reporters, she wrote: “We may be divorced, but we are still a family. I want members of our community to know that the behavior described does not match the character of the Keith I know.” Apparently, a lot of voters believe that as well. Yesterday, Ellison won the primary for Minnesota state attorney general in a multi-candidate race with 49 percent of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party vote; his nearest rival got only 19 percent.
Whether one wants to believe that Rep. Ellison is innocent of criminal wrongdoing is a separate consideration. What matters here is that these accusations must be investigated. They contain far too much detail to have been made up out of whole cloth. And if the evidence leads to the conclusion that Ellison did commit assault and battery, he should be prosecuted, barring expiration of relevant statutes of limitations. Here is a man who has sat in Congress these past dozen years and now wants to be the highest law enforcement official in the State of Minnesota. This goes way beyond political party, religion or lifestyle. This is about protecting the integrity of public offices at all levels of government. Someone out there right now should be looking for a certain video.