Rep. Keith Ellison, the DFL candidate for Minnesota attorney general, has publicly pledged to be nonpartisan in his running of the office, despite privately indicating plans to act on his personal political leanings.
At a press conference Monday, Ellison focused on the importance of impartiality in the office of the attorney general, discussing his plan to “ensure nonpartisan fairness” within the office.
“The Minnesota attorney general’s office should serve all of Minnesotans equally, without regard for race, religion, zip code or political affiliation. And that starts with the attorneys staffed in the office,” Ellison said.
Ellison went after his opponent, Republican Doug Wardlow, for calling for what Ellison described as a “political purge.” Wardlow recently came under fire for indicating he would replace 42 attorneys, who are political appointees, if elected. Wardlow has responded saying his comments were deliberately taken out of context and that he would apply no litmus test to his hires. Neither Wardlow or Ellison would be able to change the permanent staff attorneys who remain in place regardless of who is elected.
With recent polling showing Ellison trailing Wardlow by 7 percentage points, Ellison has sought to refocus the campaign on issues other than the domestic abuse allegations that have been made against him. However, Ellison’s recent public call for nonpartisanship is in stark contrast to repeated statements he has made privately about what he wants to do as attorney general.
In a recently uncovered video, Ellison, speaking to a private group of supporters, indicates he will use his own judgement to decide whether to enforce laws that “don’t make sense, but are constitutional.”
“If the state legislature passes laws that don’t make sense, but are constitutional, then I’m going to have to cross that bridge when I get to it.” Ellison said.
In another video, Ellison is seen admitting he plans on “doing some national litigation.”
“Some of my opponents have been trying to argue that I’m going to sort of leave the federal Congress to come back to Minnesota to try to use the state attorney general’s office as some sort of political platform. And the truth is I do plan on doing some national litigation,” Ellison said.
Doug Wardlow campaign manager Billy Grant called the videos “deeply troubling.”
“’Cross that bridge when I get to it’ is political code for ‘that’s what I’m going to do when I’m in office’,” Grant said. “Keith Ellison is telling supporters now he will select which laws he upholds and which he will try to remove. But it doesn’t work that way. The law isn’t a buffet where you enforce the statues you like and oppose those you don’t.”
Alpha News has reached out to the Ellison campaign for clarification about the seeming contradiction between his public position on the matter and what he has told supporters and donors in private. They did not respond prior to publication.
The race for Minnesota attorney general has garnered national attention, not only for the explosive allegations against Ellison but also due to Ellison’s position as Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). While running for attorney general, Ellison has been unwilling to resign from his post as second-in-command at the DNC.
Charges of anti-semitism also continue to plague his campaign, with some critics saying that he has had a long association with the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Ellison has responded by saying he long ago disassociated himself from Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. However, the left-leaning Washington Post called out Ellison for failing to honestly address the allegations against him, giving him four Pinocchios.