WASHINGTON – In an op-ed published Sunday, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison dismissed concerns over his continued association with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
In recent weeks, Ellison has faced continued backlash for his apparent ongoing relationship with Farrakhan. While avoiding directly addressing the calls for his resignation, Ellison penned an op-ed for Medium, dismissing concerns over an ongoing relationship, calling it a “smear” from Republicans.
“But as the attacks on me and my fellow Black representatives in Congress intensify, I want to be clear: this is a smear by factions on the right who want to pit the Jewish community and the Black community against each other,” Ellison wrote.
Ellison has long been plagued by his ties to Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam. In 2006, during his first run for Congress, Ellison attempted to sever ties with Farrakhan. However, despite continuing to deny association with Farrakhan, new evidence of continued interaction with Farrakhan has come to light, including an event in 2013 and a private meeting in 2016.
In the op-ed, Ellison attempted to downplay recent interactions with Farrakhan. Addressing the report that Ellison attended a private event with Farrakhan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in 2013, Ellison claimed he did not speak with Farrakhan at the event.
“In 2013, I attended a meeting in New York City with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and nearly 50 others where I advocated for the release of an American political prisoner,” Ellison wrote. “I didn’t know Mr. Farrakhan would be there and did not speak to him at the event.”
In 2016, Farrakhan claimed in an interview that he had met privately with Ellison in a hotel room. Ellison denied the report, saying he has had “no communication of any kind” with Farrakhan in recent years.
“Contrary to recent reports, I have not been in any meeting with him since then, and he and I have no communication of any kind,” Ellison wrote.
While Ellison denies continued association with Farrakhan, blaming Republicans for blowing it out of proportion, some Democrats are starting to turn against him. Prominent Democrat Alan Dershowitz went on Fox & Friends last weekend to call on Ellison to resign as Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee.
The Washington Post also recently called out Ellison for failing to honestly address the allegations against him, giving him four Pinocchios.
“He cannot claim to have “disavowed” Farrakhan more than a decade ago while moving in the same circles and apparently having a friendly chat behind closed doors,” the Washington Post reported. “Ellison is trying to have it both ways, publicly distancing himself while privately doing something else.”
Ellison wrote he previously “declined to dignify” questions about his association with Farrakhan, but the growing backlash has been hard to ignore.
“I believe my long record of fighting and condemning all prejudice, including anti-Semitism from whatever source, should speak for itself,” Ellison said. “But those who aim to make me guilty by false association have made themselves hard to ignore.”