Keith Ellison denies domestic abuse accusation

Keith Ellison says the alleged video does not exist.

Keith Ellison says the alleged video does not exist. Associated Press

DFL U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison is two days away from his most challenging election since winning his seat in Congress in 2006.

Ellison should be making his closing argument to DFL primary voters, asking for their support in his pursuit of the Attorney General's office. Instead, the six-term congressman is on the defensive, forced to deny accusations that surfaced Saturday evening in a Facebook post accusing Ellison of violent and abusive treatment of ex-girlfriend Karen Monahan.

In the post, the son of the ex-girlfriend says he saw a video depicting 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 man also claims to have seen text messages of Ellison asking for Karen Monahan to take him back after the alleged incident, along with "victim shaming," bullying, and threats about if she went public with it. 

"We watched her so called political friends stand by say or do nothing," writes the son, Austin Monahan. "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." 

Monahan says he wrote the post on behalf of himself and his brother, and implies his mother did not know he'd be taking the claim public.

A number of texts between Ellison and Monahan were shown to MPR News, which reports their exchanges were at times "combative," though there is "no evidence... of the alleged physical abuse." 

DFL Rep. Debra Hilstrom (Brooklyn Center), one of Ellison's primary opponents, tweeted a link to the Facebook post shortly after it was published;  since then it's quickly been picked up and spread in right-wing political circles.

Ellison, who is divorced, issued a denial in a statement released Sunday afternoon.

"Karen and I were in a long-term relationship which ended in 2016," Ellison said, "and I still care deeply for her well-being. This video does not exist because I never behaved in this way, and any characterization otherwise is false.”

Ellison got into the Attorney General contest after current Attorney General Lori Swanson dropped out of the DFL endorsement contest  after she was challenged by attorney and DFL activist Matt Pelikan. Pelikan won the party nod -- Swanson soon announced she was running for governor instead -- setting off a wave of prominent Democrats throwing their hats in the ring, including Ellison, Hilstrom, Commerce Commissioner Mike  Rothman and former Ramsey and Washington County prosecutor Tom Foley.

Ellison, easily the best-known candidate, is perceived as the frontrunner in Tuesday's primary, and has endorsements from Gov. Mark Dayton, DFL U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, and the mayors of both Minneapolis and St. Paul, among many others.

Check back for more updates as this story develops.