* Attorney General of Minnesota
* Former U.S. congressman from Minnesota
* First Muslim elected to the U.S. House of Representatives
* Supported Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam
* Says that Farrakhan “is a role model for black youth,” “is not an anti-Semite,” and “is a sincere, tireless, and uncompromising advocate of the black community and other oppressed people around the world”
* Spoke favorably of the high-profile murderers and leftist icons Mumia Abu Jamal, Assata Shakur, and Geronimo Pratt
* Former steering committee member of the National Lawyers Guild’s Minnesota chapter
* Publicly defended former Symbionese Liberation Army terrorist Kathleen Soliah
* Supported the activities of the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011
Born in August 1963, Keith Maurice Ellison was raised as a Roman Catholic in Detroit, Michigan.
At age 19, while attending Wayne State University, he accompanied a friend to Jummah prayer at the University’s student center, where he heard a Muslim preacher discussing “universal brotherhood, the evils of racism and the common origins of all of humanity.” Impressed by what he heard, Ellison later that year converted to Islam because he perceived it to be a faith that “might inform social change [and] justice in society.” After graduating with a BA in economics in 1987, Ellison enrolled at the University of Minnesota Law School.
As a third-year law student in 1989-90, Ellison penned four columns for the Minnesota Daily under the name “Keith E. Hakim”:
(a) In a November 27, 1989 piece titled “Minister [Louis] Farrakhan Never Claimed to Be a ‘Malcolm X’,” Ellison laid out his views about racism:
“Racism means conspiracy to subjugate and actual subjugation. That means planned social, economic, military, religious and political subjugation of whites. It cannot be intelligently argued that the Nation of Islam is doing this. In fact, blacks have no history of harming or subjecting whites as a class. On the other hand, whites have it written into their very Constitution that blacks shall be considered three-fifths of a person for purposes of taxation and representation of their white owners. Their Constitution also makes provisions for the return of runaway slaves. Their constitution is the bedrock of American law; it’s the best evidence of a white racist conspiracy to subjugate other peoples.”
(b) In a November 30, 1989 column, Ellison wrote: “The news media prints only the most sensational bits and pieces, never the whole story. This leaves people believing that the Nation of Islam is some kind of black Ku Klux Klan, and they immediately dismiss all of its laudable work.”
(c) On February 2, 1990, Ellison published “Affirmative Action Does Not Make up for Past Injustice,” an article advocating slavery reparations as well as the creation of a geographically self-contained “homeland” for black people:
“Since no one but the WASP elite really appreciates affirmative action, I have a challenge for all fair-minded middle- and working-class white people: I will urge black people to abandon white-dominated, integration-oriented, give-away programs, if you urge white people to justly compensate black people for 250 years of slavery, 90 years of Jim Crow and 25 years of neo-Jim Crow.
“The settlement could be a straight cash transfer for all the black exploitation. This means just compensation for all the labor hours put in by the slaves and just compensation for all the intellectual and artistic property ripped off by all the Elvis Presleys and Pat Boones. It means compensation for all the money ripped off through sharecropping and just compensation owing to all the black athletes of yesterday, such as Jack Jefferson and Joe Louis. It means back payment of the ‘black tax,’ which is the price hike that ghetto merchants and pawnbrokers charge black consumers….
“Finally, blacks would have the option of choosing their own land base or remaining in the United States. Since black people toiled most diligently in the southeastern section of the United States, this land, quite naturally, would be most suitable. That means Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. Blacks, of course, would not be compelled to move to the black state, and, of course, peaceful whites would not be compelled to move away.”
(d) In one piece, Ellison defended the incendiary Nation of Islam spokesman and black supremacist Khalid Abdul Muhammad, and, as The Weekly Standard reports, spoke “in the voice” of Muhammad.
In February 1990, Ellison participated in sponsoring Kwame Ture (a.k.a. Stokely Carmichael) to speak at his law school on the subject, “Zionism: Imperialism, White Supremacy, or Both?”—a speech that proved to be deeply anti-Semitic. Ellison subsequently defended the speech.
After earning a Juris Doctorate in 1990, Ellison worked three years as a litigator with the Minnesota-based law firm Lindquist & Vennum. He then served as executive director of the Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis, which specialized in the pro bono defense of “low-income people and people of color.” After that, he took a job with the law firm Hassan & Reed Ltd. (also in Minneapolis).
During the 1990s, Ellison failed to pay all or part of his income taxes on a number of occasions. Consequently, the IRS filed liens against him and he eventually was forced to pay some $25,000 in back taxes. Ellison also ignored fines that he had incurred for parking tickets and moving violations so numerous that his driver’s license was suspended multiple times.
In October 1992 Ellison publicly came to the defense of Sharif Willis, a convicted murderer and ex-convict who was now the leader of the violent Minneapolis-based Vice Lords gang. The previous month, four Vice Lord members had used Willis’s house as their headquarters for planning the murder of a local police officer named Jerry Haaf. At the trial of one of the killers, two witnesses implicated Willis in the plot. Willis himself was never charged, however, because law-enforcement authorities said they lacked sufficient evidence to convict him. Ellison helped organize a demonstration against Minneapolis police, where he denounced “the campaign of slander the police federation has been waging” against Willis. He also told the crowd that the police union was systematically trying to frighten white people in order to persuade the city to hire more officers and thereby strengthen the police union’s power base. In February 1993, while the trial of Officer Haaf’s killers was in progress, Ellison led a protesting crowd outside the courthouse in the chant: “We don’t get no justice, you don’t get no peace!” In February 1995 Willis was convicted in federal court for several drug and gun-related offenses, for which he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
In 1995 Ellison worked actively on behalf of the Nation of Islam. At a University of Minnesota rally to promote Louis Farrakhan’s highly anticipated Million Man March, Ellison, who organized the rally, appeared onstage with Khalid Abdul Muhammad, who delivered a thundering, racist diatribe.
That same year, when Qubilah Shabazz, daughter of the late Malcolm X, was indicted for conspiring to murder Farrakhan, Ellison organized a march on the U.S. Attorney’s office in Minneapolis demanding that Shabazz be released, and alleging that the FBI itself had conspired to try to kill Farrakhan. In a November 6, 1995, column for the Minneapolis periodical Insight News, Ellison wrote under the name “Keith X Ellison” and condemned a Star Tribune editorial cartoon implying that Farrakhan was an anti-Semite. Ellison argued to the contrary, saying that “Minister Farrakhan is a role model for black youth”; “is not an anti-Semite”; “is a sincere, tireless, and uncompromising advocate of the black community and other oppressed people around the world”; and is regarded by “most black people” as “a role model for youth and, increasingly, a central voice for our collective aspirations.”
In February 1997 Ellison served as a local NOI spokesman (with the surname “Muhammad”) at a public hearing in connection with a controversy involving Joanne Jackson of the Minnesota Initiative Against Racism. Jackson, a supporter of Louis Farrakhan, was alleged to have said that “Jews are among the most racist white people I know.” Declared Ellison: “We stand by the truth contained in the remarks attributed to [Ms. Jackson], and by her right to express her views without sanction. Here is why we support Ms. Jackson: She is correct about Minister Farrakhan. He is not a racist. He is also not an anti-Semite. Minister Farrakhan is a tireless public servant of Black people, who constantly teaches self-reliance and self-examination to the Black community.”
Ellison first emerged as a candidate for public office in 1998, when he ran, unsuccessfully, for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party nomination for state representative as “Keith Ellison-Muhammad.” In an article on his candidacy that appeared in Insight News, Ellison identified himself as an NOI member and was still defending Farrakhan: “Anticipating possible criticism for his NOI affiliation, Ellison-Muhammad says he is aware that not everyone appreciates what the Nation does and [he] feels there is a propaganda war being launched against its leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan.”
In 1998 as well, Ellison appeared at a public forum as a spokesman for NOI.
In February 2000 Ellison gave a speech at a fundraising event sponsored by the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, on whose steering committee he previously had served. Also in attendance was the former Weather Underground leader Bernardine Dohrn. The event was a fundraiser for onetime Symbionese Liberation Army terrorist Kathleen Soliah after her apprehension in St. Paul for the attempted murder of Los Angeles police officers in 1975. Calling for Soliah’s release, Ellison referred to her as “basically … a black gang member” (though she is white) because she was purportedly a victim of government persecution. He also described Soliah as a woman who had been “fighting for freedom in the ’60s and ’70s.” (Soliah subsequently pled guilty to charges in Los Angeles and to an additional murder charge in Sacramento.) Further, Ellison spoke favorably of the high-profile murderers and leftist icons Mumia Abu Jamal, Assata Shakur, and Geronimo Pratt.
In 2002, Ellison, having dropped “Muhammad” from his name, was elected (as a Democrat) to the Minnesota House of Representatives; two years later he was re-elected.
In 2006 Ellison ran for Minnesota’s Fifth District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Early that year, the Minnesota State Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board reprimanded Ellison’s campaign for unreported contributions, misclassified disbursements, and inaccurate cash balances. Ellison himself was fined for willful violation of Minnesota’s campaign-finance-reporting law and was sued twice by the state attorney general.
During the 2006 campaign, Ellison called for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and the impeachment of President Bush.
In May 2006, Ellison addressed his Nation of Islam links in a letter he penned to the local chapter of the Jewish Community Relations Council. In the letter, Ellison asserted that his involvement with NOI had been limited to an 18-month period around the time of the Million Man March in 1995; that he had been unfamiliar with the organization’s anti-Semitic views at that time; that he “did not adequately scrutinize” those views; and that he himself had never expressed or defended such views. “I have long since distanced myself from and rejected the Nation of Islam,” Ellison wrote. But all of these assertions by Ellison were demonstrably false. As journalist Joe Kaufman, founder of Americans Against Hate, writes: “Indeed, although he has since denied it, Ellison was involved with NOI for ten long years. In that time, he participated in NOI rallies, including the Million Man March hate fest; he defended NOI hate speech; and he used such NOI aliases as Keith Hakim, Keith X Ellison, and Keith Ellison-Muhammad.”
In August 2006 the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) said: “If Keith Ellison is elected in November to represent Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, he will bring to the U.S. House of Representatives a fresh progressive voice in tradition of Paul Wellstone. He will also be the first African American congressman from Minnesota and the first Muslim in the U.S. Congress.”
A key supporter of Ellison’s 2006 congressional campaign was Erwin Marquit, a University of Minnesota professor who was the principal founder of the Marxist Education Press, and who in 1974 had run for governor of Minnesota on the Communist Party ticket. A 2015 Minneapolis Star-Tribune profile of Marquit referred to him the “state’s best-known Communist.” In Memoirs of a Lifelong Communist, Marquit wrote that he and his wife Doris had hosted the first political fundraiser for Ellison in their home in July 2006; it was the first of four such fundraisers which they would hold for Ellison before Marquit’s death in 2015. All told, Marquit helped Ellison in five separate congressional campaigns between 2006 and 2014. One person who was present at a December 2013 Marquit fundraiser for Ellison was a then-CPUSA member named Matthew Voges, who recalls: “Many Communist Party members were in attendance [at the fundraiser,] although I don’t believe all of the attendees were Communists.” Between 2006 and 2014, Marquit still wrote occasionally for the CPUSA website and he served as a delegate to the CPUSA National Convention.
Ellison won his congressional election on November 7, 2006, and has been re-elected every two years since then. At his 2006 victory party, a number of his supporters shouted “Allahu Akbar!”—the traditional battle cry of jihadists.
On January 4, 2007, Ellison placed his right hand on a Koran (instead of a Bible) at the photo-op reenactment of his congressional swearing-in ceremony. (At the earlier, official ceremony, all the newly elected representatives were sworn in at one time, without any books.) Notably, the Koran used by Ellison had once belonged to Thomas Jefferson; the book had been taken from the Library of Congress, under security, specifically for Ellison’s swearing-in ceremony. Clayton State University English professor Mary Grabar observed: “In this p.r. stunt [Ellison] tried to claim Jefferson’s blessing. The mainstream media presented it as another way to upstage what they see as ignorant rubes who would be upset by a Congressman not using the traditional Bible in the swearing-in ceremony.”
Soon after joining the House of Representatives, Ellison became a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus.
On February 20, 2007, Ellison endorsed the 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama, praising the latter’s “unifying spirit” as well as his “message of an open and fair economy, a balanced prosperity and clear opposition to the war in Iraq.”
On June 28, 2007, Ellison co-sponsored Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s bill to impeach Republican Vice President Dick Cheney for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The bill charged that Cheney had “purposefully manipulated [pre-Iraq War] intelligence” and had “fabricated a threat of weapons of mass destruction.” Other co-sponsors included William Lacy Clay, Jan Schakowsky, Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey, and Maxine Waters.
In a July 2007 speech, Ellison likened America’s military response to the 9/11 attacks to the manner in which the Nazis had exploited the 1933 burning of the Reichstag in Berlin: “It’s almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that. After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it, and it put the leader [Hitler] of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted.”
In April 2008, Ellison introduced Resolution 1078 to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. This Resolution called for the implementation of a Global Marshall Plan that would “demonstrate the commitment of the United States to peace and prosperity,” a plan that “must operate within the ethical framework of generosity and magnanimity, not merely of instrumentality, and to be successful and must be perceived as more than a new attempt to extend influence into the world.” This plan mirrored the foreign-policy approach advocated by the Network of Spiritual Progressives.
● During “Operation Cast Lead” (OCL), a December 2008/January 2009 military operation in which Israel sought to quell the aggression of Hamas and other terrorists in Gaza, Ellison, stating that he was “torn” on the issue, voted “present” on — rather than in favor of — a January 9th nonbinding House resolution “recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza, reaffirming the United States’ strong support for Israel, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.” The resolution passed by a margin of 390 to 5, while 21 other legislators joined Ellison in voting “present.”
“The people who have a strong sympathy for the Israeli position dominate the conversation,” Ellison told Al Jazeera during OCL. “It is really not politically safe to say there have been two sides to this.” In an interview a month later with the BBC, Ellison similarly lamented that it was not feasible for any member of Congress to reach out diplomatically to Hamas — not because Hamas was a genocidal terrorist organization sworn to the destruction of Israel and the mass murder of Jews — but because such an outreach effort would be politically unpopular in the United States: “What I can tell you now is that the constellation of political forces in the United States at this moment would make a member of Congress who has reached out directly to Hamas spend all their time defending that decision and would not be able to deal with other critical issues that need to be focused on. So for example if I were to make a move like that I wouldn’t be able to focus my attention on the humanitarian issue. I’d have to defend myself to my colleagues why I reached out to a terrorist organization. It would absorb all of my time. I would spend a lot of time fighting off personal attack and would not be able to achieve goals that I have.”
“In mid-February 2009,” reports the Investigative Project on Terrorism, “Ellison, accompanied by Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA), visited Gaza and Israel to observe the humanitarian situation after the Gaza War. Although the pair spent time on both sides of the border, most of their public statements emphasized the idea that Israel, and not Hamas, was victimizing Palestinians in Gaza.”
● In a September 2009 article which he wrote, Ellison called for an end to all U.S. aid to Israel, asserting that such aid was unnecessary because Israel “is a modern industrial power with a personal income rivaling Great Britain’s and a health care system that covers all its citizens.”
● On January 27, 2010, Ellison authored a letter that was signed by 53 fellow Members of Congress, calling on President Barack Obama to use diplomatic pressure to end Israel’s blockade of Gaza—a blockade which had been imposed in order to prevent the importation of weaponry from Iran and Syria. By Ellison’s telling, the blockade constituted an unjust form of “collective punishment” against the Palestinian people.
● Speaking at a 2010 fundraiser that was hosted by former Muslim American Society leader and jihad supporter Esam Omeish, Ellison made plain his belief that Israel played far too large a role in controlling American foreign policy: “The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of seven million people. A region of 350 million all turns on a country of seven million. Does that make sense? Is that logic?” Also at this event, Ellison said:
● During Operation Protective Edge (OPE) — a 2014 Israeli military incursion that was launched in response to a dramatic escalation in rocket fire against Israel by Hamas-affiliated terrorists in Gaza — Ellison penned a Washington Post op-ed arguing that any ceasefire should be predicated on Israel ending its blockade of Gaza, and claiming that a permanent peace would never be possible unless Israel were to permit and facilitate a large measure of economic relief in Gaza. “The status quo for ordinary Gazans is a continuation of no jobs and no freedom,” he wrote. “This is not an attractive future. Gazans want and deserve the dignity of economic opportunity and freedom to move.”
● Also in 2014, Ellison was one of only eight House members to vote against H. J. Res. 76, a resolution to increase the amount of U.S. financial aid that was earmarked to help Israel maintain and develop its Iron Dome missile-defense system — a system that had successfully intercepted dozens of Hamas rockets aimed at Israeli population centers. In an August 4, 2014 statement, the congressman explained his vote thusly: “I support the Iron Dome and have voted in favor of appropriations of over $1 billion to Iron Dome since its inception. I repeat my condemnation of Hamas’ indiscriminate rocketing of Israeli civilians, and I am grateful Iron Dome has been there to protect them. I voted against H. J. Res. 76 because I believe in the midst of a hot war with so many casualties, the US government needs to be prioritizing a ceasefire between the two sides. The Palestinians of Gaza remain vulnerable…. Congress should show compassion for both sides, and should also be working to fund humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza. In the end, there is no military solution to this conflict….”
● During a trip to Israel in June 2016, Ellison tweeted a photo of a sign accusing Israel of practicing “apartheid” against the Palestinians. According to Tabletmag.com, “Ellison’s comment reinforced the libel.”
● At the Democratic National Convention in July 2016, Ellison was a featured speaker in an event held by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation—part of an alliance of anti-Israel organizations that promote the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Ellison himself supports BDS.
● In 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders used his influence to secure, for Ellison, a major role in formulating the Democratic Party’s platform for the election campaign. As terrorism expert Steven Emerson reports: “Ellison and other delegates supporting Sanders wanted the Democratic Party platform to delete a description of Jerusalem as Israel’s ‘undivided capital’ and wanted to gut language opposing the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement targeting the Jewish state.”
In 2009, Ellison delivered the keynote address at a Washington, DC forum titled “Engaging The Muslim World—Challenges and Opportunities,” sponsored by the U.S. Institute Of Peace. In his speech, Ellison stated that “violent extremism with a Muslim veneer is essentially a post-colonial reaction” (i.e., a reaction to past Western colonialism) and a manifestation of a “political environment rooted in grievance.”
At a Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP) event in early 2011, Ellison derided what he viewed as America’s traditional means of conducting foreign policy: “Diplomatically, we have got to understand that it’s not about imposing will upon countries through economic warfare, like all these sanctions that we’re so fond of. Equity has got to be how we interact with the rest of the world. And I’m telling you that many of the problems that we are facing today find their roots in colonial relationships that are fundamentally premised on inequity. And the reactions from people of what we used to refer to as the Third World. … Much of what we are seeing is a reaction to historic colonial relationships and neocolonial relationships.”
At the same NSP conference, Ellison added: “[S]omething is wrong … when we have the attitude that my oil is under your sand, and so I’m gonna get it from you, and I’m willing to end your life to do it and ruin your society to do it.” He then proceeded to urge U.S. dialogue with Iran vis à vis the latter’s nuclear-weapons program: “When we discuss Iran, we should be discussing what happened in 1953”—a reference to the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh’s government, with the aid of American and British intelligence agencies.
In the fall of 2009 Ellison disparaged American Islamic Forum for Democracy founder M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim who has consistently warned about the threat that political Islam poses to the West, as a Muslim “Uncle Tom.” Blacks, Ellison explained, are “familiar with people who would seek to ingratiate themselves with powerful people in the white community and would there turn them on the rest of us and give license to attack us all.”
In October 2009, Ellison praised the anti-Semitic Muslim scholar Hamza Yusuf as one of several “respected religious authorities who converted to Islam.”
Ellison has had a close and cordial relationship with the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a lobbying group for the Islamist regime in Tehran. He has spoken before NIAC and had received fundraising support from the organization. Some noteworthy facts:
On March 10, 2011, Ellison testified at a Committee on Homeland Security hearing in Washington, DC, titled “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response.” In his testimony, Ellison said: “Ascribing the evil acts of a few individuals to an entire community is wrong; it is ineffective; and it risks making our country less secure…. Targeting the Muslim American community for the actions of a few is unjust. Actually all of us—all communities—are responsible for combating violent extremism. Singling out one community focuses our analysis in the wrong direction.”
In the fall of 2011 Ellison strongly supported the activities of the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street movement.
In September 2012 Ellison condemned a portion of the Republican Party Platform that stated: “There must be no use of foreign law by U.S. courts in interpreting our Constitution and laws. Nor should foreign sources of law be used in State courts; adjudication of criminal or civil matters.” Characterizing the foregoing text as a manifestation of anti-Sharia sentiment and a generalized spirit of intolerance, Ellison said:
“It’s an expression of bigotry. There has never been any legislation offered to establish Shariah law—not at the federal level, not at the state level. There’s not been a municipal ordinance opposing this, there’s not been anything…. Why do they want to become the party of hate? They’re hating on immigrants who are from Latin America. They’re demonstrating hatred toward Muslims. They’re demonstrating hostility toward women. They act like they don’t like gay people…. I’m sad that they have decided to go into this dark ugly place where they see the whole world as their enemy…. [T]hey’re the party that is basically a bigoted party and they have now officially declared themselves against a whole segment of the American population, because if we said we were going to put a plank opposing Jewish law, or Catholic canon, it would be an outrage. This is also an outrage.”
When Ellison debated Republican challenger Chris Fields on October 18, 2012, the latter accused Ellison of having paid a law firm $240,000 to dig up embarrassing details of Fields’ divorce; of having shorted his own (Ellison’s) ex-wife on child-support payments; and of having enriched himself to the tune of some $2 million via funds from pharmaceuticals and other companies. In response, Ellison called Fields “stupid,” a “lowlife scumbag,” and a “gutter dweller.” Notably, however, the congressman did not deny the $2 million enrichment charge.
In a February 2013 interview with Fox News’ Stuart Varney, Ellison expressed his belief that it is “fair” for the wealthy to be taxed at whatever rate is necessary to raise money for the provision of services to lower-income Americans. When asked if a 65% or 75% income tax rate would be fair, he stuck to his principle.
On October 8, 2013, Ellison was one of eight members of Congress (all Democrats) who were arrested when they sat in the middle of Independence Avenue and blocked rush-hour traffic during an immigration rally on Washington’s National Mall. Though the Mall was, at that time, legally closed due to a so-called “government shutdown” that had gone into effect a week earlier, the National Parks Service allowed the demonstration to take place because of First Amendment protections. Consisting of more than 15,000 participants, the rally was intended to persuade Congress to pass legislation allowing illegal immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship. Also arrested were U.S. Representatives Joseph Crowley, Al Green, Raul Grijalva, Luis Gutierrez, John Lewis, Charles Rangel, and Jan Schakowsky.
In a March 2014 television interview, host Bill Maher asked Ellison: “[W]hy doesn’t your party come out against the Second Amendment? It’s the problem.” To that, Ellison replied: “I sure wish they would. I sure wish they would.” Ellison then proceeded to enumerate a number of steps that could be taken to eviscerate the Second Amendment: “You’ve got to make sure that the CDC can issue reports on gun killings and hand gun violence. You’ve got to make sure that we can get rid of assault weapons [i.e., semiautomatic weapons]. You’ve got to close the loophole at gun shows. You’ve got to do a whole range of things to get us into a sane place. We’ve got 12,000 handgun murders a year. It’s got to stop.”
In a February 2015 address which he delivered at the U.S. Vote Foundation’s Voting and Elections Summit in Washington, DC, Ellison denounced conservative efforts to pass voter-identification laws. Said the congressman: “Now I also think we need to make voting easier; it should be easier. In other countries it’s easier. Why should voting be so difficult? Tuesday? Who thought that up? I mean the fact is, is that there’s wide variation in when people can vote. You can’t necessarily register to vote on Election Day. I’ve often asked myself why you should have to register to vote. Why shouldn’t it be automatic?”
When President Obama announced in September 2015 that he planned to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S. during the next year, Ellison said: “Ten thousand is not enough. Aren’t we the people who say, ‘give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses’? We must do more for families who are not safe in their own homeland.” Just prior to Obama’s announcement, Ellison had written the president a letter saying: “Now, more than ever, we need to live up to our history by increasing the number of Syrian refugees allowed to resettle in the United States.” (Obama’s decision to import Syrian refugees was controversial because the Islamic State had vowedto secrete its own terrorist operatives into refugee masses, and high-ranking government officials like FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, CIA Director John Brennan, and FBI Deputy Assistant Director Michael Steinbachhad all said that it would be impossible to reliably screen out terrorists posing as refugees.)
After Fidel Castro died in November 2016, Ellison issued the following statement about the late Cuban dictator:
“He was a revolutionary leader who confronted a system of government that excluded everybody except the military and the money-rich. And he took them on, defeated them and then set the country up in a way where … Did he use harsh dictatorial tactics? Yes, probably he did … but, did he also stand up for peace and freedom in Africa? Absolutely. His Cuban forces took on the South Africa apartheid military forces and defeated them.
“And, actually deployed doctors anywhere from Chernobyl to all over South Africa, anywhere people were sick. He sent those doctors there. He made medical education very available, made medicine available. So if you look at his legacy you have to say that he confronted people with a lot of power on behalf of people that didn’t have any. He also did jail people who were political critics of his, he also did not allow … free speech … It’s a mixed bag.”
At a January 2017 rally held by the “Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools” — a coalition of left-wing organizations and teachers’ unions — Ellison depicted school-choice initiatives like vouchers and charter schools as schemes designed to resurrect Jim Crow-style discrimination; he also likened President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, to a segregationist. Said Ellison: “Let me just take you back a little bit to the 1950s and ‘60s. When the Supreme Court ordered that public education had to get rid of segregation, there were certain districts around the country … that rather than integrate schools [used voucher programs to] shut down the whole district. When certain leaders like Betsy Devos want to say, ‘Let’s take all the public school money and give it to private schools,’ don’t you think for a minute that this plan that they’re trying to pretty up and pass on doesn’t have a whole lot to do with those plans back in the ‘50s and ‘60s?” “It’s not that they don’t like public schools,” Ellison said of school choice advocates like DeVos. “They’re fine with public schools, as long people with privilege and access are getting that education. But when the great masses … can get an education … then that’s a little bit too much democracy for some people.”
On February 25, 2017, Ellison lost to Thomas Perez by a margin of 235 votes to 200, in a race for chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Ellison’s defeat came in the second round of voting, after Perez had fallen one vote short of winning in the first round. The victorious Perez promptly used his first motion as DNC chairman to appoint Ellison as his deputy chair.
In September 2017, Ellison spoke at a panel discussion about immigration reform and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive action by which former president Barack Obama had permitted most DREAM Act-eligible individuals to gain temporary legal status, work permits, access to certain publicly funded social services, and protection from deportation. “[A]s many as three million DACA recipients live with someone who is a citizen of the United States,” said Ellison. “Add that to the people who work with a DACA recipient. Add that to people who are the parents of a DACA recipient. Add that to people who are parents of American citizens. You are literally talking about over 100 million Americans who are in some way — way more than 100 million, maybe well over that — who are deeply connected to people who have immigrated to the United States, some with official papers, some with not.” Reasoning from the premise that Americans have a moral obligation to provide “sanctuary” for illegal aliens, Ellison then likened modern-day illegals aliens living in the United States to Jews who lived in Nazi Germany during the 1930s and ’40s: “If you ask yourself, ‘What I would I do if I was a gentile in 1941 if my Jewish neighbors were under attack by the Nazis, would I give them sanctuary?’ You might be about to find what you’d do. Will you pass that moral test, or will you fail it?”
On January 3, 2018, Ellison used his Twitter account to post a photo of himself holding his newly purchased copy of Mark Bray‘s recently published book, Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook, which promoted the activities of the revolutionary Marxist/anarchist militia movement known as Antifa. Ellison described it as “the book that strike [sic] fear in the heart of … Donald Trump.”
In February 2018, Ellison voiced support for the enactment of a “maximum wage” policy in the United States. “If you were to say, ‘Look, if you make more than 20 times more than the people who actually make the products and do the services of your company,’ then we’re going to tax you more,” he said.
During a panel discussion in Minneapolis following month, Ellison said he favored a new type of welfare proposal by which the government would pay people a basic salary if technological advancements had caused them to lose their jobs. “I personally do think that the universal basic income — it has a lot of merit,” he stated. “As people are displaced, the truth is there’s still plenty of stuff for people to do. I don’t think that universal basic income means people sit around. I think it means they do other things that are necessary, like extra folks in the classroom to help out the teacher.”
In 2018, Ellison ran for the office of attorney general in Minnesota.
At a local May Day parade in Minnesota in May 2018, Ellison wore a t-shirt bearing the Spanish-language slogan “Yo no creo en fronteras,” which translates to: “I don’t believe in borders.”
In August 2018 – just a few days before the Democratic primary for attorney general (which Ellison won on August 14) – Ellison’s former long-term girlfriend, Karen Monahan, accused him of having subjected her to a high level of physical and emotional abuse. For details of this matter, click here.
For an overview of Ellison’s congressional voting record on a number of key issues, click here.
Over the years, Ellison has received many donations from high-ranking officials and/or board members of Islamist organizations. Specifically, from 2006-2018 he received a total of $228,473 in contributions from individuals affiliated with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the SAAR Foundation (SAFA Trust Group), the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Muslim American Society, the Islamic Society of North America, the North American Islamic Trust, the International Institute of Islamic Thought, the Muslim Students Association, the American Muslim Council, the United Association for Studies and Research, the Islamic Circle of North America, the Muslim Alliance in North America, and the American Muslims for Palestine.
On November 6, 2018, Ellison was elected Minnesota attorney general. Two days later, he officially stepped down from his role as DNC vice chair.
In May 2020, Keith Ellison’s 41-year-old son, Jeremiah Ellison, took to Twitter to respond to President Trump’s announcement that the Marxist/anarchist Antifa movement would thenceforth be classified as a “terrorist organization.” The younger Ellison tweeted, “I hereby declare, officially, my support for ANTIFA. Unless someone can prove to me ANTIFA is behind the burning of black and immigrant owned businesses in my ward, I’ll keep focusing on stopping the white power terrorist THE[Y] ARE ACTUALLY ATTACKING US!”
In response to his son’s tweet. Keith Ellison called it “a comment about the absurdity of the president’s comment more than anything else.” “We don’t see what the president’s talking about,” he added. “I don’t think the president sees what he’s talking about.”