Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN-03) has requested a House Ethics Committee investigation into the domestic-abuse allegations made against him by ex-girlfriend Karen Monahan.
In August, Monahan accused the congressman of forcibly dragging her from a bed, and continues to slowly release text messages and medical records supporting her claims.
Ellison has denied the allegations, and a Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party investigation into the matter is expected to conclude in the coming days, creating speculation on social media about why Ellison would himself call for an additional probe.
“Today I am announcing that I will submit a request for a House Ethics Committee investigation into the allegations against me raised by a former partner. I am taking this step now because I am innocent and eager to see this entire matter resolved,” Ellison said in a statement provided exclusively to BuzzFeed News.
“In addition to any House Ethics investigation, an independent investigation has been conducted by an independent attorney. I have complied fully with that investigation, the results of which should be made public soon,” Ellison continued, though The Minnesota Sun recently discovered that the DFL investigation is actually being conducted by Democratic donors.
The House and Senate Ethics Committees were brought back into the national spotlight in 2017 when Ellison’s former colleague, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) was accused of sexual harassment. According to critics, the committees have a reputation of being black holes “where ethics allegations go to die.”
“These allegations have lingered in the public sphere, and remain unsubstantiated. I welcome an investigation by the House to allow us to move on,” Ellison’s statement concluded.
The move comes in the midst of a toxic political battle over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has also been accused of sexual misconduct and is facing calls for an FBI investigation from Senate Democrats. For consistency’s sake, Democrats are now giving credence to the Ellison accusations, starting with Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI).
“I have been very clear that I make no excuses for anybody who engages in this kind of behavior. And, as far as Keith Ellison, these allegations need to be investigated, and appropriate action taken,” she told CNN over the weekend.
On Wednesday, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA-14) told BuzzFeed News that she supports opening up a House Ethics Committee investigation, but said it would likely “be a gesture more than anything else.”
“It probably should be [investigated], but you know, they won’t get it started and then he will be gone,” she said, noting that Ellison will be leaving Congress in January. “We’ve got to do something with the Ethics Committee generally because when members leave, you know, the investigation falls off.”
Both Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) expressed support for the investigation, with the latter calling the allegations “very serious.”
“I have long supported the ongoing investigation being conducted by an outside law firm—which Rep. Ellison has cooperated with—and support the House Ethics Committee conducting an investigation as well,” Smith told BuzzFeed News.
Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tim Walz joined Smith in supporting the investigation, and called Ellison’s Wednesday statement the “appropriate” thing to do.
“My hope is that it will be conducted in an expeditious and transparent manner,” Walz said. “I have consistently supported investigations into sexual harassment and abuse, and I will continue to do so.”