On Tuesday, Rep. Keith Ellison won the Democratic primary for attorney general in Minnesota, despite the domestic violence allegations against him that surfaced over the weekend.
Ellison, deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the first Muslim-American elected to Congress, was accused of physical abuse by his ex-girlfriend Karen Monahan. He denies the allegations.
Though Monahan had been posting on social media about being a domestic violence survivor for weeks, she hadn't named Ellison as her alleged abuser. It wasn't until Saturday night that the accusations were made public, when her son Austin Monahan wrote a lengthy Facebook post alleging that he’d seen a video of Ellison physically abusing his mother.
"In the middle of 2017, I was using my [mom's] computer trying to download something and I clicked on a file, I found over 100 text and Twitter messages and video almost [two minutes] long that showed Keith Ellison dragging my mama 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.
He went on to say: "I use [sic] to believe the Democrats were the ones who would stand by a person who went through this kind of abuse, now I know both Democrats and Republicans could [sic] care less when it comes to violence toward women and girls."
Monahan confirmed her son's post in a tweet, writing: "@keithellison, you know you did that to me."
What my son said is true. Every statement he made was true.@keithellison, you know you did that to me. I have given every opportunity to get help and heal. Even now, u r willing to say my son is lying and have me continue to leak more text and info just so others will believe him— Karen Monahan (@KarenMonahan01) August 12, 2018
In a follow-up statement to local outlet Fox9, Monahan alleged that Ellison was emotionally abusive and unfaithful during their long-term relationship. She left Ellison in January 2017, following an argument that turned physical.
She said: "He said he was about to leave town for the weekend and told me to take the trash out. Given the explosive outrage that occurred the night before, I just shook my head yes. I didn’t look up at him or say anything. That is when he tried to drag me off the bed by my legs and feet, screaming 'bitch you answer when I am talking to you. I said take out the trash, [you're] a bad guest' (even though we were living in the same place). He kept trying to drag me off the bed, telling me to get the fuck out of his house, over and over. I froze. He had to leave and get on the plane. He knocked the shoe off my foot and told me I better be gone when he gets back (which was in two days)."
Though Ellison confirmed that he had a relationship with Monahan, he denied abusing her.
"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."
Monahan has declined to release the alleged video of the physical abuse. She told CNN that she had misplaced the flash-drive containing the video while moving out of Ellison's place, but that even if she knew were it was she wouldn't want it to be public.
"It’s humiliating, it’s traumatizing, for everyone’s family involved, and for me," she told Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) earlier this week. "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. It’s feeding into that."
This is not the first time that Ellison has been accused of domestic abuse.
Amy Alexander, a Democratic activist, alleged in 2006 that she had sustained a long-term extramarital relationship with Ellison. She penned an article for the Wright County Republican, a monthly local newsletter, in which she discussed her alleged relationship with Ellison.
She said that Ellison showed up at her house uninvited in May 2005. After an argument, he allegedly grabbed her and pushed her out of the way. Alexander called the police and before they got to the house, Ellison allegedly broke her screen door before leaving. However, MPR News reported at the time that her allegations couldn't be independently verified.
Ellison, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2006, denied the physical violence allegations and that he had a relationship with Alexander.
Some of Ellison's supporters told the Washington Post on Tuesday that they were either troubled by the abuse allegations brought forward by Monahan or that they were skeptical of what they saw as last-minute accusations against a lawmaker they trust. The situation also reminded them of the case against Sen. Al Franken, who resigned last year after eight women accused him of sexual misconduct. Supporters of Franken in some progressive circles are still frustrated about his resignation, arguing that he was held to a higher standard that men who have been accused of worse behavior, such as President Donald Trump.
It's unclear whether the allegations against Ellison will have any effect on the November general election, which he is likely to win. (No Republican has held the attorney general seat since 1971.)
Monahan reacted to the news that Ellison won his primary on Facebook.
"It's not on a person who has been victimized to share proof after they had the courage to share their trauma and pain to the world. It is on Keith Ellison to be [truthful] to his constituents and take responsibility for what he knows he did," she wrote Tuesday night.
She continued: "He not only chose to be dishonest to the world, he actually was the one who was abusive. So many of you chose not to believe me or my son. You have bullied both of us, victim shamed and continued business as usual. That is shameful."