Maybe the timing is coincidental, but in politics, never bet in that direction. Three days before a tough Democratic primary for Attorney General in Minnesota, the family of deputy DNC chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) accused him of beating his former girlfriend — claiming to have a video of one altercation. Her grown son, Austin Aslim Monahan, wrote a lengthy post on Facebook explaining how he’d found evidence of the abuse on his mother’s computer, but notice the timing here too:
In the middle of 2017, I was using my moms computer trying to download something and I clicked on a file, I found over 100 text and twitters messages and video almost 2 min 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. The messages I found, were mixed with him consistently telling my mom he wanted her back, he missed her, he knew he fucked up and we wished he could do things different, he would victim shaming, bully her, and threaten her if she went public. I text him and told him I know what you did to my mama and a few other things.
I met up with my mom that night and asked her what happened. She said nothing happened until I told her I saw a video and hell of a lot of messages saying something different. She finally talked. My brother and I were so angry and hurt for our mom. We were ready to go public but our mom begged us not to and she along with others convinced us it wasn’t in our moms best interest.
I saw message after message through out all that time, where my mom was telling him she wasn’t going back to him but still saw his humanity and offered restorative justice. I honestly don’t see how she would offer him that, but thats her choice.
Sitting all this time, watching what our mom went through and not being able to say or do anything was hard as hell. None of you know the hell our family has gone through. I don’t think half of you would even care. We watched her so called political friends stand by say or do nothing. People had an idea what happened and never reached out to my mom. The same people who are posting about social justice are ready to smear my mom, protect a person who abused her and broke the law. You think we give a shit about a politics when we saw what our mom went through? She may not matter to none of you, but she is our mom, our kids grandmother and she is actually someone. There is a lot more he has done to my mom and others that we saw in the text but our mom can decide if and when she wants to tell the world that part.
If that was the case, why not release the material in the middle of 2017? It’s not as if Ellison had dropped off the face of the earth. A few months earlier, he had risen to the #2 position in the DNC and rumors of a run for statewide office had already begun. Later in the year, Ellison’s name came up as a potential replacement for Al Franken after several women came forward to allege sexual misconduct on Franken’s part, forcing him to resign. And yet, this never came up at all, even though by that time Monahan allegedly had all the evidence he has now. Why?
And for that matter, why not post the video? Why not give it to the local news media that rushed to fill in the story? The Monahan family shared some of the text messages with Minnesota Public Radio but not the video of the abuse incident, a point MPR notes in covering Ellison’s denial:
He said he was in a “long-term relationship” that ended in 2016 but he denied the allegation of abuse.
“I still care deeply for her well-being,” he wrote. “This video does not exist because I never behaved in this way, and any characterization otherwise is false.” …
The alleged video was not included in the Facebook post and has not been provided to MPR News. There are no police reports or court documents confirming the incident. Austin Monahan said he confronted Ellison by text message after he saw that video and said “I know what you did to my mamma.” …
More than 100 text and Twitter messages between Ellison and Karen Monahan, shared by Karen Monahan and reviewed by MPR News, show the two communicating after their breakup for months, coordinating her getting her things from his house.
The tenor of the conversation at times was friendly, with the two acknowledging concern and care for one another, and at other times more combative over the terms of their break-up and the emotional pain Monahan said he caused her.
The Star Tribune got an e-mail from Monahan herself with more detail about the allegations:
Monahan on Sunday tweeted some texts between her and Ellison, one of which indicated that she did not go public when Ellison’s son was running for office. Jeremiah Ellison was elected to the Minneapolis City Council in November.
In an e-mail later, Monahan described a relationship where she said she dealt with “narcissist abuse,” including manipulation, lying and victim shaming. In the incident her son was referring to, Monahan said Ellison “tried to drag me off the bed by my legs and feet” while screaming at her the day after they had a fight.
When she told him she wanted to write about her experience in the relationship, she said Ellison tried to threaten and intimidate her.
She said she offered him restorative justice and wanted him to seek some sort of help, but he would not take her up on it. “I told him not only he deserved it, but his family and constituents deserve it as well,” she wrote.
All of this could very well be true, and it’s clear that at the very least Monahan and Ellison parted on bitter terms. However, the delay and timing of this release is curious, and the withholding of the alleged video even more so. These kinds of eleventh-hour allegations just before elections have the aroma of political hit jobs, or perhaps in this case a hit job with more personal motivations. This release seems timed to do the maximum of damage to Ellison while leaving the minimum of time to repair it.
That doesn’t make the allegations false, either, but it does go to credibility. Ellison himself has loads of credibility issues, especially in his claims to have renounced Louis Farrakhan and anti-Semitism two decades ago. That doesn’t leave much room for trust on either side of this, which means it’s impossible to know whether this was an abusive relationship or just a bad break-up until someone ponies up evidence of the former. That means seeing the video, or in its absence assuming it’s being withheld because doesn’t depict what is being claimed.
There are already lots of good reasons to vote against Ellison. So far, though, there are also good reasons to be skeptical of this story.