Despite allegations that he physically and emotionally abused an ex-girlfriend, Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison won Tuesday’s Democratic primary for attorney general, a position he is poised to win in the November general election.
In a Facebook post published on Saturday, Austin Monahan accused Ellison of dragging his mother, Karen Monahan, “off the bed by her feet, screaming and calling her a ‘fucking bitch’ and telling her to get the fuck out of his house.” Austin wrote that he found out about the incident from a video on his mother’s computer. Monahan has since come forward to allege she experienced “narcissist abuse” from Ellison.
Mohanan told Minnesota Public Radio that she would not release the alleged tape because, “It sets the expectation for survivors of all kinds of forms of abuse, whether it be abuse toward women, abuse from police officers, abuse from other people in power, to have to be the ones, like I’m doing right now, to show and prove their stories.”
Ellison, who serves as the Democratic National Committee’s deputy chair, has refuted the existence of such a tape and denied any wrongdoing. “Karen and I were in a long-term relationship which ended in 2016, and I still care deeply for her well-being,” he said in a statement. “This video does not exist because I never behaved in this way, and any characterization otherwise is false.”
Though many Democratic Party leaders have called for reform in the wake of #MeToo, a movement that led to Minnesota Senator Al Franken’s resignation amid several sexual harassment allegations, the Democratic Party has been notably silent regarding Ellison, who has emerged as a leader for the Party’s progressive wing.
The DNC, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Our Revolution and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who led calls for the resignation of then-Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), declined requests for comment. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Credo Action, Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin and spokespeople for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a key Ellison ally, did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s inquiries.
The DNC has since opened an investigation, however, telling NPR, “These allegations recently came to light and we are reviewing them. All allegations of domestic abuse are disturbing and should be taken seriously.”
A group of Ellison’s supporters interviewed by the Washington Post offered mixed reactions to the allegations:
Hunter Hawes, a 29-year-old Democrat who had worked with Ellison as a community organizer, said he had looked into the allegations after they came out but determined there wasn’t enough evidence to change how he saw a man he knew.
“To me, the timing is very suspect and fishy to show no evidence,” he said.
But Brenda Bous, a 57-year-old Democrat who had voted early for Ellison, said the situation made her uncomfortable. She regretted casting an early vote for Ellison and said she needed to know more before marking her ballot for him in November.
“I might skip over it,” she said. “I think he should have a chance. Is it true? Is it just rumors? Is it stuff they dug up years ago? How do we know? It always is going to hang over his head.”
“We had a very unexpected event at the end of this campaign that happened,” Ellison said at his victory party on Tuesday night. “I want to assure you that it is not true. We are going to keep on fighting all the way through. We are going to be respectful to all, and we are going to stand like steeples, and insist upon the truth.”
He told reporters that his campaign is “not trying to avoid the topic.”