As of early Monday afternoon—a day before the Minnesota Democratic primary for attorney general—candidate Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) one of the nation's leading progressive politicians and deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, has so far released only a two-sentence denial, via a written statement, in response to serious accusations of domestic abuse from his former girlfriend, Karen Monahan.
Although no corroborating evidence, including a video that she claims did exist and her grown son claimed to have seen,has been produced supporting Monahan's accusations, the women's advocacy group UltraViolet called on Ellison to withdraw from the attorney general race and resign from the seat he has held since 2007.
"A domestic abuser does not belong in any position of power but particularly not as the top prosecutor in the state," said executive director Shaunna Thomas in a statement.
Others were less certain in the conclusions they drew on Monday—suggesting that Ellison's brief statement offered an insufficient accounting of his side of the story while the lack of physical evidence raised questions—and called for more clarity in order to uncover the truth.
As the Huffington Post reported:
Democracy for America, one of many liberal groups that backed Ellison’s run for chairman of the DNC, offered a statement affirming female accusers without commenting on the veracity of the claims made by the ex-girlfriend, Karen Monahan, a Sierra Club organizer.
"Democracy for America is not in a position to evaluate allegations made against a candidate in the closing hours of an election, but, as an organization, we believe that every woman who tells her story deserves to be heard," said DFA spokeswoman Annie Weinberg. "Domestic violence of any kind is unacceptable and has no place in our politics, period."
MoveOn tweeted a statement saying it is "deeply concerned about allegations regarding Keith Ellison."
"We will closely monitor this situation as more facts come to light," the group added.
On social media:
The video should be released (or at least shown to somebody neutral) and Ellison needs more than a two-sentence defense.— Kevin D. Hendricks (@kevinhendricks) August 13, 2018
And we need a better system to deal with these kind of accusations. The court of public opinion just days before the election? It’s not fair to anybody, the abused, the accused, voters, etc. I don’t know how we protect the abused while also giving some measure of due process. Ugh— Kevin D. Hendricks (@kevinhendricks) August 13, 2018
at a minimum, I'd say this statement raises more questions than it answers https://t.co/I5vZEMJKQ7— ryan cooper (@ryanlcooper) August 13, 2018
Monahan, an organizer for the Sierra Club who dated Ellison for a number of years until 2016, confirmed late Sunday night that a Facebook post by Austin, one of her two grown sons, accusing the congressman of abusing his mother was true.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Austin wrote, "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 [a] video almost 2 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."
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
According to an interview with the Star Tribune, Austin does not currently have the video.
"I only know what I saw and I know what's true," he told the newspaper.
Ellison denied the allegations on Sunday in a brief written statement.
"Karen and I were in a long-term relationship which ended in 2016, and I still care deeply for her well-being," the congressman said. "This video does not exist because I never behaved in this way, and any characterization otherwise is false."
Monahan then published a lengthy statement describing Ellison as a "narcissist," and saying that while the incident described by her son happened in 2016, "the gaslighting, manipulation, name calling, and cheating started in 2014."
Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) reviewed the text messages and tweets sent between Monahan and Ellison after their breakup:
In one exchange, Karen Monahan tells Ellison she plans to write about their "journey" in a chapter in her book and Ellison warns her not to. "Horrible attack on my privacy, unreal," he wrote in one message.
There is no evidence in the messages reviewed by MPR News of the alleged physical abuse.
In a screenshot of a December 2017 text message, which was sent to MPR News by Monahan Sunday evening, Monahan confronts Ellison for the first time that a video exists of the alleged abuse.
"We never discussed — the video I have of you trying to drag me off the bed," Monahan wrote to Ellison, quoting abusive language he allegedly shouted at her.
Ellison did not respond to that message or others that followed.
In 2006, the Wright County Republican in Minnesota published an essay by a woman named Amy Alexander, who claimed he had pursued her in the 1990s while he was married, belittled and criticized her during their relationship, and "ostracized" her from the community where she'd been an activist.
Monahan's accusations first surfaced three days ahead of Minnesota's attorney general primary, in which Ellison—an outspoken progressive who has called for Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, and an end to predatory lending—has been a front-runner.