Keith Ellison, ex-wife fight media outlets suing to unseal divorce records

September 28, 2018

Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison and his ex-wife are fighting a media effort to unseal their 2012 divorce records as scrutiny increases on domestic abuse allegations made by his ex-girlfriend.

He and Kim Ellison, who were married for 20 years, issued a joint statement this week saying that their divorce “isn’t the public’s business, and therefore, when we separated, we jointly asked the court to seal the file.”

AlphaNewsMN, a right-leaning news and opinion website, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the state’s largest newspaper, have sued to gain access to the records in the wake of last month’s allegations by Karen Monahan.

“Now, one month before a closely contested election for Minnesota Attorney General, a conservative group wants to probe our divorce file in search of something to use against Keith in this race,” said the Ellisons in a statement on Minnesota Public Radio. “I am disappointed that the Star Tribune would choose to join this motion.”

Ms. Monahan, a Sierra Club organizer, has said she suffered “emotional and physical abuse” during their long-term relationship, including an incident in which she said Mr. Ellison dragged her from a bed and screamed obscenities at her.

Mr. Ellison has denied the claims, while Kim Ellison said that he never harmed her.

“I have made clear that Keith never abused me in any way before, during, or after our marriage,” said Ms. Ellison. “What these people are seeking simply is not contained in this file. However, the details of my private life, and my children’s private lives, are.”

She added, “The privacy they are seeking to exploit is not only Keith’s, it is our entire family’s.”

A hearing on the media motion is slated for Oct. 9 in Hennepin County District Court.

Mr. Ellison called Wednesday for the House Ethics Committee to investigate the allegations, saying he wanted to clear his name, while the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party is conducting an investigation led by the state party attorney’s law partner.

Critics have mocked the “independent” DFL investigation and pointed out that any House probe will likely stretch past the Nov. 6 election.

Mr. Ellison is giving up his congressional seat to run for attorney general in a contest against Republican former state Rep. Doug Wardlow. Mr. Ellison holds a slim 41-36 percent lead in a recent poll.

“It saddens me that he didn’t take me up on my offer to do restorative justice and get the help needed to prevent this from happening in the future,” Ms. Monahan said in a statement to WCCO-TV in Minneapolis.