Keith Ellison’s divorce records unsealed by court

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who serves as deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee and is running for attorney general in his state, has been fending off allegations of domestic abuse from ex-girlfriend Karen Monahan, who has claimed that Ellison was emotionally, physically and verbally abusive toward her in 2016.

In light of those allegations, two media outlets — the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Alpha News — requested that records of Ellison’s 2012 divorce from his ex-wife Kim Ellison be unsealed. An appeals court judge agreed with the outlets and the divorce records were unsealed on Wednesday.

The Ellisons, who were married for 25 years, had unsuccessfully argued against the public release of the divorce records out of concern for their privacy and to protect sensitive and personal information. The media outlets had simply argued that, due to the allegations and fact that Ellison was running to be the top law enforcement official in the state, the divorce records were a matter of public interest.

Abusive behavior

It had been thought that the divorce records might show that Ellison had a history of being abusive toward his ex-wife — instead, the Washington Examiner reported that the records actually show Ellison’s ex-wife was abusive toward him.

In a 2015 filing, Ellison alleged that his ex-wife Kim had “hit me too many times to mention” during their marriage and claimed that on one occasion she had even bit him on the arm and threatened to stab him.

The statements came after his ex-wife had filed a claim seeking additional spousal support and a claim that he had failed to provide her with health insurance, as had previously been agreed upon.

“The Respondent constantly blamed her physical abuse of me on her depression and MS, but would always do it again. Finally, I had to leave the marriage,” wrote Ellison. “I never hit or assaulted the Respondent, although I am physically larger, quicker, and stronger than she is.”

United front

Unsurprisingly, both Keith and Kim Ellison were greatly displeased that the court had ruled against them and in favor of the media outlets seeking the release of their divorce records. Both surmised it was cynically done to influence the upcoming election, as per a report from The Washington Post.

At a news conference on Tuesday following the judge’s ruling — but prior to the unsealing of the documents — Kim Ellison stated, “There was never any abuse in our marriage and there’s nothing in our files to say that there was.” She added, “I’m ashamed that a judge thinks it’s okay to exploit somebody’s mental illness. And it’s unconscionable to me that Alpha News and the Star Tribune want to use it to influence the results of an election.”

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Keith Ellison echoed her sentiments in a statement Wednesday, “I am extremely disappointed that the court has gone back on its agreement to seal (Kim’s) and my divorce file, agreeing to open it at the request of a far-right propaganda outlet with a history of racism and religious bigotry, Alpha News, and the Star Tribune.”

“I understand perhaps better than most that as a public official, my personal life falls under higher scrutiny than others. But to pry into the details of a sealed divorce file that the court previously ordered closed, on the eve of an election, is shameful and outrageous,” he added.

Problematic response

Monahan’s allegations of abuse against Ellison came at an inconvenient time for Democrats, as they attempted to hinder the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh with various last-minute sexual misconduct allegations.

As Democrats and progressives chanted “I believe Dr. Ford” in support of Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford’s unverifiable allegation, some couldn’t help but notice that Monahan wasn’t getting much attention. She has complained as much herself, writing on Twitter, “I’ve been smeared, threatened, isolated from my own party.”

Whether this additional background information helps or hurts Ellison’s image remains to be seen, but one can bet that this isn’t the last we’ll hear about it.

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