Divorce records for Keith Ellison, who is fending off an allegation of abuse from an ex-girlfriend, contain no allegations that the Minnesota congressman physically abused his ex-wife. But Ellison said in a 2015 filing that Kim Ellison repeatedly hit him during their 25-year marriage.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune and conservative news site Alpha News sued for access to the divorce file, arguing it’s a matter of public interest after the claim by Ellison’s former girlfriend. Ellison, who is running for state attorney general and is deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has denied it.
The Ellisons tried to block release of the file, with Kim Ellison arguing that it would expose personal and painful details about her depression and health, but the Minnesota Court of Appeals rejected that bid on Tuesday.
Although the divorce proceedings began in 2010, Keith Ellison didn’t raise his allegation of abuse until 2015. That’s when Kim Ellison was seeking additional spousal maintenance after losing her job, citing the multiple sclerosis diagnosis she received years before their divorce. She has recently said in court filings that her ex-husband had failed to provide her health insurance as agreed.
Keith Ellison argued his ex-wife wasn’t credible, going on to say that Kim Ellison “hit me too many times to mention” during their marriage, once bit him on the arm and threatened to stab him.
“The Respondent constantly blamed her physical abuse of me on her depression and MS, but would always do it again,” Keith Ellison said in the court filing. “Finally, I had to leave the marriage.” Later, he added: “I never hit or assaulted the Respondent, although I am physically larger, quicker, and stronger than she is.”
Hours after its initial release, Hennepin County court briefly removed that affidavit from public view before eventually restoring it. A spokesman said the court reviewed the file and determined it did not contain “a confidential report.”
Neither Kim Ellison nor Keith Ellison disputed the abuse allegation in separate statements Wednesday, and both expressed outrage that the court ordered their entire divorce records released.
“My divorce file contains details of the most difficult time in my life, when I was struggling with my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis,” Kim Ellison said. “It is a record of that time that I never thought a court would force me to share with the public.
Keith Ellison called Kim Ellison “a wonderful person” and said they have rebuilt a strong friendship since their divorce.
“I attribute the difficulties in our marriage to the disease and my failure to understand it,” he said in his statement. “I was not nearly sensitive enough to the symptoms of her medical condition at the time, and for that I am deeply sorry.”
Ellison’s former girlfriend Karen Monahan accused him in August of dragging her from a bed at his home in 2016. The accusation came just days before the Minnesota primary election, but Ellison went on to win his party’s primary for attorney general. He is now in a close race with Republican Doug Wardlow.