DNC Reviewing ‘Disturbing’ Allegations of Keith Ellison’s Domestic Abuse

Rep. Keith Ellison / Getty Images
August 14, 2018

The Democratic National Committee said Tuesday it is reviewing charges of domestic abuse made against its deputy chairman Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.), who is on the ballot in Tuesday’s Minnesota Attorney General primary election.

The DNC told NPR it is reviewing allegations Ellison emotionally and physically abused former girlfriend Karan Monahan, saying it takes such allegations seriously. Former DNC communications director Luis Miranda said taking the matter seriously necessitates suspending Ellison.

"The party has no choice but to suspend him at a minimum until they figure out what's going on. Frankly, it would be malpractice not to," Miranda said. "We've made it clear we're going to take these accusations seriously, at a minimum. We set too high a standard not to take this seriously."

Monahan and her son claim Ellison hurt her and they have video of him dragging her off a bed, which Ellison has denied.

"Karen and I were in a long-term relationship which ended in 2016, and I still care deeply for her well-being," Ellison said. "This video does not exist because I never behaved in this way, and any characterization otherwise is false."

The DNC’s statement to NPR did not reveal much about their position.

"These allegations recently came to light and we are reviewing them," the DNC told NPR. "All allegations of domestic abuse are disturbing and should be taken seriously."

Ellison has not been involved in preparing for the DNC gathering in Chicago next week.

"Keith's role was drastically reduced because of his own schedule and running for office," a Democratic source told NPR, "so he hasn't been as involved in DNC decisions or business in recent months."

The Democratic Party has dealt with sexual abuse scandals as part of the wider #MeToo movement to expose offenders. One of the most high-profile scandals ended the tenure of former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (D.), who was photographed with his hands over a woman’s breasts while she slept.

More accusations against Franken eventually got Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), and others to demand he step down. Eight other members of Congress—five Republicans and three Democrats—have been felled by sexual harassment scandals and either resigned like Franken or decided not to run.

Some members of Congress have maintained their innocence and refused to step down, however. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D., Calif.) has been accused of sexually assaulting a minor 10 years ago, but he is running for reelection and earned the Democratic nomination.

CNN reported three others have corroborated Monahan’s story, but she has refused to release the tape, saying it is "embarrassing."

Ellison won Tuesday's Democratic primary for Minnesota Attorney General.