September 26, 2018 10:21 PM
The video above originally aired Sept. 17, 2018.
Minnesota Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison has submitted a request for a House Ethics Committee investigation into domestic abuse allegations raised against him by an ex-girlfriend.
"Today I am announcing that I will submit a request for a House Ethics Committee investigation into 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 wrote in a statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
That ex-girlfriend, Karen Monahan, said on Twitter Wednesday that while she welcomed the investigation, she sees it simply as a way for Ellison - who is not seeking reelection to Congress - to try and diminish the impact of the allegations on his campaign for state attorney general.
"I am glad it will happen, but he is well aware he will be out of Congress before it is complete," she tweeted. "He makes himself look good before the election."
Monahan is currently out of town and said via text Wednesday that "due to threats and harassment," she has hired an attorney.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor party has hired a private lawyer, Susan E. Ellingstad, to conduct their own investigation into the allegation.
When reached for comment on Wednesday afternoon, Ellingstad said she could not comment.
Ken Martin, the state party chair, said he expects a final report to be released any day now - ahead of the November election.
"I have complied fully with that investigation, the results of which should be made public soon," Ellison wrote. "These allegations have lingered in the public sphere, and remain unsubstantiated. I welcome an investigation by the House to allow us to move on."
Republican attorney general candidate Doug Wardlow released the following statement:
"The allegations against Keith Ellison are serious, troubling, and corroborated. There are multiple allegations of domestic violence from two women, a 911 transcript and medical records to back up the allegations.
"I welcome any open and transparent investigation into these allegations as the victims should be heard."
Experts said Ellison's decision to call for an investigation of his own conduct is uncommon.
"It's pretty unusual for a House member to call for himself to be investigated by the Ethics Committee," said ABC News Political Director Rick Klein.
"This reflects a real concern on Ellison's part that the allegations could become a political liability," he added. "His hope is that going out there like this will help clear the air – though it's not clear that the Ethics Committee would complete its work before November."
Larry Jacobs, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said there are political considerations to Ellison's request.
"I think calling for an investigation is, frankly, a damage control measure," he said. "Right now, he is in a dogfight with a Republican challenger, and he must be pretty worried to be sending this along."
A KSTP-TV poll shows the race is very close and there are about 15 to 20 percent of Minnesota voters who have yet to make up their minds.
"They are sitting on the sidelines trying to sort what they think of Keith Ellison and the allegations made against him," Jacobs said. "He's in real trouble if he can't give some kind of assurance to those voters."
It is up to the Committee on Ethics to acknowledge Ellison's request. A request doesn't automatically result in an investigation. That decision lies solely with the O.C.E. board. It's made up of private citizens, not members of Congress.
If the board decides to investigate, the panel can take no longer than 30 days to review the "initial" claim. There are several other phases of the probe, which could take months to complete.
Eric Chaloux & Beth McDonough
Updated: September 26, 2018 10:21 PM
Created: September 26, 2018 02:14 PM
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