Keith Ellison becomes campaign issue in key Minnesota Senate races

September 26, 2018 GMT

The domestic-abuse allegations against Rep. Keith Ellison are creating headaches not only for his campaign but the candidacies of two fellow Democrats, Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith.

Both Democratic senators are being accused of hypocrisy taking a hard line on the allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee, while going easy on the claims against Mr. Ellison leveled over a month ago by his ex-girlfriend Karen Monahan.

Republican state Sen. Karin Housley, who’s running against the newly appointed Smith in the November special election, last weekend called out “my opponent’s continued hypocrisy” on the accusations.

“For Tina Smith to call for a ‘full and thorough investigation’ into the allegations made against Brett Kavanaugh but openly campaign with her friend Keith Ellison is hypocritical, offensive and just plain wrong,” Ms. Housley said in a statement.


The Housley campaign is running a digital ad showcasing Ms. Smith’s ties to Mr. Ellison, the Democratic National Committee deputy chair.

“According to Tina Smith, Keith Ellison is a ‘longtime friend’, ‘progressive champion’, and a ‘voice for the vulnerable’ whose support ‘means so much,’” says the Housley ad.

“It’s no secret the two are political allies and mouthpieces for the radical left but as Tina Smith claims to be a ‘champion’ for women, why won’t she speak out on the domestic abuse allegations leveled at Keith Ellison?” the ad says.

Calling it like I see it. Karin Housley (@KarinHousley) September 22, 2018

Ms. Smith has continued to stand by the Democratic congressman as he runs for Minnesota attorney general, telling WCCO-TV in Minneapolis that she supports him and noting that he has repeatedly denied the charges.

Ms. Monahan has said she suffered “emotional and physical abuse” during their long-term relationship, including an alleged incident in which he dragged her off a bed and screamed obscenities, which Mr. Ellison has said never happened.

“I appreciate there are important allegations around Congressman Ellison, and it’s also really important to realize and to appreciate that Congressman Ellison categorically denies these,” Ms. Smith said in the interview.

Mr. Kavanaugh said last week, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation,” referring to the charge by Christine Blasey Ford that he pinned her down and groped her 36 years ago while they were in high school.

Republicans have mocked the “independent” investigation into the Monahan claims, which is being run by Susan Ellingstad, a law partner of Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party attorney Charlie Nauen, the AP reported.

Meanwhile, Republican state Rep. Jim Newberger, who’s challenging Ms. Klobuchar’s reelection bid, tweeted that his opponent has repeatedly called for an “FBI investigation regarding Brett Kavanaugh.”


“Where is her call for further action regarding Keith Ellison’s repeated reports of abuse, which are now supported by medical records??” he asked, adding ”#Hypocrisy.”

Senator Klobuchar is once again calling for FBI investigation regarding Brett Kavanaugh. Where is her call for further action regarding Keith Ellison’s repeated reports of abuse, which are now supported by medical records??#Hypocrisy Jim Newberger (@NewbergerJim) September 24, 2018

The Ellison issue may not be enough to drag down Ms. Klobuchar, who enjoys a double-digit lead, but Ms. Housley is gaining on Ms. Smith, who was appointed to replace Democratic Sen. Al Franken in December after he stepped down in a sexual-misconduct scandal.

A Minnesota Star Tribune/Minnesota Public Radio poll released last week found Ms. Smith leading Ms. Housley by 44 to 37 percent

Ms. Klobuchar has distanced herself from Mr. Ellison, saying in a Sept. 2 interview on “Meet the Press” that “I think it’s being reviewed,” and that she would “campaign with our ticket when the time comes.”

“He hasn’t asked me to campaign with him,” Ms. Klobuchar added.

Former state Rep. Doug Wardlow, Mr. Ellison’s opponent for attorney general, has hammered the congressman over the allegations.

He released an ad last week highlighting domestic-abuse allegations made by Ms. Monahan and Amy Alexander, who accused him of losing his temper, pushing her and breaking her screen door in 2005, which he has denied.

“Ellison has been accused of domestic violence by multiple women,” says the Wardlow ad. “Even the National Organization for Women has called for Ellison to end his campaign.”

Watch our new ad The Choice. We’re going on the offensive against @keithellison. RT to spread the word! #VoteWardlow #MNAG Doug Wardlow (@doug_wardlow) September 20, 2018

At Friday’s campaign debate, Mr. Ellison noted that he won a restraining order in 2006 against Ms. Alexander, and that Ms. Monahan’s allegations were made two days before the Aug. 14 primary.