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Abuse Allegations Against Rep. Ellison Can't Be Substantiated, Probe Says

Oct 2, 2018
Originally published on October 2, 2018 8:31 am
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Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison faces an accusation of domestic abuse. At least one investigation says the claim cannot be substantiated, although that investigation was paid for by the Minnesota Democratic Party. Republicans have called it a sham and called for a probe by the Minnesota attorney general. Brian Bakst of Minnesota Public Radio has more.

BRIAN BAKST, BYLINE: Given the intense focus on assault allegations made against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the Ellison situation is far from ideal for Democrats, who want accusers taken at face value. Congressman Ellison is deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee and won a crowded primary for Minnesota attorney general just days after the abuse allegations surfaced. His ex-girlfriend Karen Monahan says he tried to pull her from a bed by her feet two years ago while swearing at her. She says she captured it on a cellphone video that she hasn't released.

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KAREN MONAHAN: It's not on me to try to keep proving to people this happened.

BAKST: That was Monahan in August, speaking to Minnesota Public Radio about why putting out the footage would cause her more harm.

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MONAHAN: It's humiliating. It's traumatizing for everyone's family involved and for me.

BAKST: She wouldn't turn the video over to the party-contracted investigator either. It was the main reason the lawyer examining the case called the abuse claim unsubstantiated. Ellison says there's no video because it didn't happen. In a written statement, he praised the investigator for a fair review and said he's ready to focus on more pressing issues. Last week, he accused opponents of fixating on the claim for political gain.

KEITH ELLISON: Even though I never engaged in domestic abuse, I think it is a very serious, serious issue. And to simply politicize it, I think, is incredibly bad.

BAKST: Republican opponent Doug Wardlow says the investigation is tainted because the law firm behind it worked extensively for the state Democratic Party, known in Minnesota as the DFL.

DOUG WARDLOW: This is a politically motivated sham investigation. It was always going to conclude in favor of Keith Ellison because he's the party's endorsed candidate for attorney general.

BAKST: Polls show Wardlow has a real shot at becoming the first Republican to win the office in a half-century. And four weeks from Election Day, Republicans are working overtime to make all Democratic candidates in competitive races account for Ellison.

For NPR News, I'm Brian Bakst in St. Paul. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.