Democrats’ in­ves­ti­ga­tor: No proof of El­li­son abuse

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

Min­nesota Democrats met with plenty of skep­ti­cism last week af­ter a party-led in­ves­ti­ga­tion into do­mes­tic abuse al­le­ga­tions against Rep. Keith El­li­son con­cluded that the claims were un­sub­stan­ti­ated.

Su­san Ellingstad, a Min­neapo­lis lawyer hired by the Min­nesota Demo­crat-FarmerLa­bor Party, said her in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion was “un­able to sub­stan­ti­ate the claim of phys­i­cal abuse” made by Karen Mon­a­han, Mr. El­li­son’s ex-girl­friend, ac­cord­ing to the re­port leaked to The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Min­nesota DFL Chair­man Ken Martin said in a state­ment to me­dia out­lets that the party would for­ward the 15-page re­port to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties “to let them re­view the con­tents and de­ter­mine whether fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion is war­ranted.”

His de­ci­sion did lit­tle to squelch per­cep­tions that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was hope­lessly con­flicted, given that Ms. Ellingstad is a law part­ner of DFL at­tor­ney Char­lie Nauen and Mr. El­li­son serves as deputy chair­man of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee.

“I don’t know why any­one would be sur­prised by that. The Demo­cratic Party hires lawyers close to the Demo­cratic Party to in­ves­ti­gate a sen­si­tive can­di­date, and they come back say­ing ‘not enough here,’” said Univer­sity of Min­nesota po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor Larry Ja­cobs. “I don’t think that was sur­pris­ing.”

Also un­sur­prised by the out­come was Ms. Mon­a­han, who said she “didn’t ex­pect to be heard, be­lieved or val­i­dated,” even though she re­leased 2017 med­i­cal records, ther­apy notes, text mes­sages and state­ments from four other peo­ple con­firm­ing that she “shared the abuse with them.”

She has ac­cused Mr. El­li­son of “emo­tional and phys­i­cal abuse” stem­ming from their long-term re­la­tion­ship, which ended in 2016, cul­mi­nat­ing in an in­ci­dent in which she says he dragged her from bed by her foot and screamed ob­scen­i­ties at her.

Ms. Mon­a­han also tweeted that she gave the in­ves­ti­ga­tor text mes­sages be­tween her and “one of the other fe­males he was sleep­ing with (putting all of our health at risk), dis­cussing the times, dates we had been with him.”

Mean­while, Mr. El­li­son thanked the DFL for “tak­ing this is­sue se­ri­ously and re­quest­ing this in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

“I un­der­stand that Su­san Ellingstad’s in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found the al­le­ga­tion against me by my for­mer part­ner un­sub­stan­ti­ated,” he said in a state­ment. “I want to thank Ms. Ellingstad for con­duct­ing this thor­ough, in­de­pen­dent, and fair re­view, and I thank ev­ery­one who spoke with her for par­tic­i­pat­ing.”

His Repub­li­can op­po­nent for Min­nesota at­tor­ney gen­eral, for­mer state Rep. Doug Ward­low, blasted the in­ves­ti­ga­tion as a “sham.” He said the “cred­i­ble and sub­stan­ti­ated do­mes­tic vi­o­lence claims against Keith El­li­son demon­strate that he is un­fit to be Min­nesota’s At­tor­ney Gen­eral.”

“As pre­dicted, the sham ‘in­ves­ti­ga­tion’ led by the DFL party at­tor­ney’s le­gal part­ner has con­cluded in fa­vor of the party’s At­tor­ney Gen­eral can­di­date,” Mr. Ward­low said in a state­ment. “But the pub­licly avail­able ev­i­dence con­tra­dicts that con­clu­sion.”

Ms. Mon­a­han’s son Austin said Aug. 11 on Face­book that he had watched a video of Mr. El­li­son drag­ging his mother from the bed, but Ms. Mon­a­han has re­fused to re­lease the video, say­ing it would vi­o­late her pri­vacy. With­out the video, the re­port con­cluded that it was im­pos­si­ble to sub­stan­ti­ate her al­le­ga­tions, es­pe­cially when weighed against Mr. El­li­son’s “ve­he­ment de­nial.”

“While I un­der­stand Ms. Mon­a­han’s ra­tio­nale of not want­ing to suc­cumb to the bul­ly­ing and pres­sure to prove her story, I none­the­less find that dan­gling dis­pos­i­tive proof of a se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tion and then with­hold­ing it from the in­ves­ti­ga­tor un­avoid­ably cre­ates doubt about the al­le­ga­tion,” said the re­port.

Mr. El­li­son asked the House Ethics Com­mit­tee last week to con­duct an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the al­le­ga­tions, but Repub­li­cans scoffed at his re­quest. They noted that Mr. El­li­son will no longer serve in Congress come Jan­uary and that such an in­ves­ti­ga­tion will un­likely wrap up by the Nov. 6 elec­tion.

Repub­li­can state Sen. Karin Hous­ley, who is run­ning against Demo­cratic Sen. Tina Smith, called on the Min­nesota at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice to con­duct its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“Re­cent calls for a con­gres­sional ethics in­ves­ti­ga­tion, made by Keith El­li­son and echoed by my op­po­nent, amount to noth­ing more than po­lit­i­cal cover. El­li­son will have left Congress by the time an in­ves­ti­ga­tion could be com­pleted,” Ms. Hous­ley said.

“Th­ese are se­ri­ous, re­cent and sub­stan­ti­ated al­le­ga­tions that de­serve im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion and raise sig­nif­i­cant doubts about Keith El­li­son’s fit­ness to serve as Min­nesota’s chief le­gal of­fi­cer,” she said in a state­ment.

In 2006, Amy Alexan­der ac­cused Mr. El­li­son of los­ing his tem­per, push­ing her and break­ing her screen door. He has de­nied the al­le­ga­tion and ac­cused Ms. Alexan­der of ha­rass­ing him, point­ing out that he won a re­strain­ing or­der against her.

Ms. Ellingstad said in the re­port that she fo­cused only on Mon­a­han al­le­ga­tions against Mr. El­li­son and did not in­ves­ti­gate “any past re­la­tion­ships of Ms. Mon­a­han.”

Ms. Hous­ley has crit­i­cized the Demo­cratic sen­a­tor for con­tin­u­ing to sup­port Mr. El­li­son while call­ing for a “full FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion” into sex­ual as­sault al­le­ga­tions levied against Supreme Court nom­i­nee Brett M. Ka­vanaugh, which he has de­nied.

Ms. Smith, who de­clared last month that she would vote against the Ka­vanaugh nom­i­na­tion, said in a state­ment Mon­day that such al­le­ga­tions “al­ways need to be taken se­ri­ously.”

“We are at a piv­otal mo­ment in this coun­try, one that’s been com­ing for a long time,” said Ms. Smith. “I be­lieve that al­le­ga­tions of mis­con­duct al­ways need to be taken se­ri­ously — and I’m glad they fi­nally are. I’ve also al­ways be­lieved that we need to take time to look into ac­cu­sa­tions and that ev­ery­one de­serves a process so that we can get to the truth.”

El­li­son

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