By Peter Hasson
Minnesota Democrats’ self-described “independent” investigation into domestic abuse allegations against Rep. Keith Ellison is being handled by the party attorney’s legal partner.
Ellison, the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee and nominee for Minnesota attorney general, is accused of physically and emotionally abusing his ex-girlfriend, liberal Sierra Club activist Karen Monahan. Ellison has repeatedly denied Monahan’s accusations.
Minneapolis lawyer Susan Ellingstad took over the Ellison investigation from the state party’s attorney following Ellison’s primary victory in August, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin told the AP they hired Ellingstad to make sure the investigation “wouldn’t be colored by people with associations with the party.” (RELATED: Keith Ellison To Ex-Girlfriend: ‘We Don’t Have To Destroy Each Other’)
Ellingstad is a legal partner with the state party’s attorney, Charlie Nauen, who the AP reported handled the early stages of the investigation. Ellingstad and Nauen are partners at Lockridge Grindal Nauen P.L.L.P., which bears the DFL attorney’s name.
Another Lockridge partner, David Zoll, represented Martin and the DFL in their unsuccessful bid to get then-candidate Donald Trump thrown off of the state ballot in 2016, court documents show. Zoll worked with powerhouse Democratic law firm Perkins Coie L.L.P. on the case.
Ellingstad and the DFL did not return requests for comment.
Monahan wrote on Twitter that she offered to meet with Ellison and the investigator at the same time, but that Ellison declined. Ellison confirmed that fact during his first debate on Sept. 21, explaining that he had no desire to see Monahan again.
Monahan, in response, posted text messages from early- and mid-2017 that showed Ellison expressing his desire to get back together with Monahan and telling her how much he missed her.
Ellison repeatedly insisted during the debate that the probe into Monahan’s allegations was an “independent investigation.”
The Republican nominee for Minnesota attorney general, Doug Wardlow, dismissed that claim in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation on Tuesday.
“Keith Ellison is being investigated by the party that endorsed his candidacy after multiple allegations of domestic violence. Any claim that this is an independent investigation is laughable,” Wardlow said.
Martin told the AP on Tuesday that he believed the investigation had concluded.
Monahan told TheDCNF on Sunday — two days before the AP’s story ran — that the investigation had concluded two weeks prior — contradicting Ellison’s claim of an “ongoing” investigation.
DFL spokeswoman Ellen Perrault, after declining to comment on the investigation for weeks, claimed in response Sunday night that the investigation was still “ongoing.”
For both Martin and Perrault to be correct, the investigation would need to have ended either Monday or early Tuesday.
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