ST. PAUL, Minn. — An ex-girlfriend’s allegation that Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison once physically abused her could not be substantiated because she refused to provide video she said she had of the incident, an attorney hired to investigate the claims concluded in a draft report obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
The report was compiled by Susan Ellingstad, a lawyer hired by Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party to investigate the allegation against the Democratic congressman. Ellison, also deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has denied the allegations.
Karen Monahan alleged in August that Ellison dragged her off a bed by her feet while screaming obscenities at her in 2016. Monahan said she had video footage of the incident. She levied the allegation just days ahead of a crowded Democratic primary for Minnesota attorney general that Ellison went on to win.
The state’s Democratic party launched an investigation into the claim. Democratic party chairman Ken Martin said last week he expected the investigation to conclude soon.
A draft report obtained by the AP notes Monahan’s shifting rationale for refusing to produce the video footage, including that it was lost, on a USB drive in storage or that it would be too embarrassing and traumatic to release. Ellingstad also wrote in her report that Monahan would not allow her to view the footage privately.
“An allegation standing alone is not necessarily sufficient to conclude that conduct occurred, particularly where the accusing party declines to produce supporting evidence that she herself asserts exists,” Ellingstad wrote. “She has thus repeatedly placed the existence of the video front and center to her allegations, but then has refused to disclose it.”
Neither Monahan nor Ellison’s campaign immediately responded to a request for comment. Andrew Parker, who Monahan retained as legal counsel, said he had not seen the report and declined to comment.
A state Democratic party spokesman did not immediately confirm the report’s authenticity Monday. The draft report obtained by the AP was not dated, but it notes Ellingstad she tried to reach Monahan on Sept. 26 to request a “final opportunity” to view the tape.
Ellison was first elected to his Minneapolis congressional district in 2006, and emerged as a leader among liberal Democrats, including co-chairing the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Ellingstad is a partner at the law firm with the state Democratic party’s top attorney, Charlie Nauen. Earlier Monday, Republican Senate hopeful Karin Housley called for the attorney general’s office to investigate the allegation, saying it could provide “an impartial investigation into the serious allegations.”
The allegation against Ellison has loomed over his bid for attorney general and Democrats nationwide, especially as they push for answers surrounding the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
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 held for more than four decades. Public polling shows Ellison in a close race with Republican Doug Wardlow, a little-known former state lawmaker who has said the allegations make Ellison unfit for office.
Ellison and Monahan dated for several years but broke up long before she accused him of physical abuse. Ellingstad’s report paints the picture of a tumultuous relationship marked at times by anger and Monahan’s accusations that Ellison had been unfaithful to her.