Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., plans to ask the House Ethics Committee to investigate allegations of abuse leveled against him by a former girlfriend.
Ellison, who is running in a tight race against Republican Doug Wardlow for state attorney general, has vehemently denied the allegations and said he wants “the entire matter resolved.”
“Today I am announcing that I will submit a request for a House Ethics Committee investigation into allegations against me raised by a former partner. I am taking this step now because I am innocent and eager to see this entire matter resolved,” Ellison said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “In addition to any House ethics investigation, an independent investigation has been conducted by an independent attorney. I have complied fully with that investigation, the results of which should be made public soon.”
“These allegations have lingered in the public sphere, and remain unsubstantiated. I welcome an investigation by the House to allow us to move on,” he added.
A former girlfriend accused Ellison of physical abuse last month, just days ahead of his victory in the crowded Democratic primary for AG. The accuser, Karen Monahan, said Ellison once dragged her off a bed by her feet while screaming obscenities. She claims to have video footage of the 2016 incident but has refused to release it, saying it’s embarrassing.
The longtime Minnesota congressman and Democratic National Committee deputy chairman has called the allegations false and tried to ride out a storm of questions after winning the Aug. 14 primary. But the old sexual assault allegations that have thrown Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination into disarray have renewed focus on Ellison and a six-week old investigation into his conduct that has shown few outward signs of progress.
In Minnesota and Washington, Republicans have called Democrats hypocrites for stalling Kavanaugh’s nomination in the Senate while failing to address Ellison’s situation. Republican Karin Housley, running against Democratic Sen. Tina Smith to complete former Sen. Al Franken’s term, bashed Smith for campaigning with Ellison as she calls for an investigation of Kavanaugh.
Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin said he believes that the investigation has concluded, and that a final report should be issued in the coming days.
“I’m starting to get a little frustrated because it’s been a long time now, almost two months,” he said. “I hope soon. I hope any day here.”
While the state party’s attorney initially investigated the allegations against Ellison, Martin decided after the August primary to hire an external investigator to ensure “that it wouldn’t be colored by people with associations with the party.” Hired was Susan Ellingstad, a partner at a Minneapolis law firm with state party attorney Charlie Nauen.
Democrats in Minnesota are concerned that the allegations against Ellison could impact their chances in November to hold onto an attorney general’s office they’ve controlled for more than four decades. Public polling shows Ellison in a close race with Wardlow, a little-known former state lawmaker who has turned the allegations into a campaign issue.
A recent poll performed for the Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio News showed Ellison with just 41 percent of voters’ support — a five-percentage point edge over Wardlow — while more than 18 percent of respondents were undecided. The poll surveyed 800 likely voters on Sept. 10-12 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.