Keith Ellison's accuser battles critics, says her allegations aren't politically motivated

Karen Monahan, the former girlfriend of U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison who accuses him of abusing her, denies that she's waging a personal vendetta against Ellison during a hotly contested election.

Monahan did on-camera interviews with Minnesota reporters for the first time Tuesday. She said she has been the victim of "smears" by Democrats since making her initial allegation in August. She did not provide any new evidence, including any video of alleged abuse.

"I would not be here talking with you or anyone else had the smears, the lies, the bullying and intimidation not have had occurred," Monahan said during an interview at her attorney's law office in downtown Minneapolis.

Ellison, the vice-chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is running for Minnesota Attorney General. He has denied Monahan's accusations.

Monahan says Ellison emotionally abused her throughout their relationship, which ended in early 2017. She has said she has video of an alleged incident in 2016, when Monahan says Ellison tried to drag her off a bed.

Monahan said she could release the video, but only when she was emotionally ready. Her critics said she is not credible because she won't release it.

"That’s all it became about. The video, the video, the video," she said. "This is my journey, and I get to go through this process as it feels comfortable and right for me."

A Minnesota DFL investigation concluded Oct. 1 that Monahan's claims were unsubstantiated because she would not provide a video to the investigator.

Wednesday, Ellison's campaign declined to make him available for an interview. Instead, the campaign sent a previously released statement in which Ellison calls the DFL investigation "thorough" and "fair."

Monahan said she participated in the investigation despite calling it "biased." Susan Ellingstad, who conducted the investigation, works for Minneapolis law firm Lockridge Grindal Nauen, which has donated $37,500 to Ellison's campaigns since 2005, Federal Election Commission records indicate.

Monahan, a longtime Democratic activist, said the party has chosen to believe some women like Christine Blasey Ford, who accused U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavauagh of abuse.

"I can tell you that I didn’t walk away from the Democrats. The Democrats walked away from me and my family," Monahan said.

Monahan's political motivations have been questioned. Critics have pointed to her choice of attorney Andrew Parker, who has a connection with Ellison's opponent in the attorney general race, Doug Wardlow. Parker hired Wardlow to work at his previous law firm, Parker Rosen, and the two men worked together for six years.

Monahan said she was paying Parker and had chosen him based on recommendations made by her son's colleagues at another law firm.

Parker said his connection to Wardlow should not be an issue.

"Doug Wardlow has nothing to do with it," Parker said. "All it is is a red herring to fog the issue by those who don't want to look at the evidence."

Monahan has released text messages and medical records that show she had told people in 2017 that Ellison had abused her. Her critics have said she's not credible because she won't release the video.

Democrats have held the attorney general's office since 1966, but Ellison trails Wardlow by 7 points in the most recent Minneapolis Star Tribune/MPR News poll. The same poll showed 16 percent of voters didn't know who they would choose.

Monahan said she will not vote in the attorney general election.

"I am not invested in this election -- at all," she said.