Who is Keith Ellison? | Power Line


Our friend Roger Kimball has tuned in to the trial of Derek Chauvin in a major way. Roger has accordingly noted the role played by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison in the case, as he did in his current Spectator column “Justice for Derek Chauvin.”

Last night Roger forwarded a message he had received in response to his column quoting one of Ellison’s two contributions to the University of Minnesota Daily in 1989-90, when Ellison was a third-year law student. I’ve been reporting on and writing about Ellison for 15 years now. I responded to Roger’s message with the following background that I thought some readers might find of interest. There is much more where this came from. Just ask me!

I started writing about Ellison on Power Line in June 2006, when he (surprisingly) won the DFL endorsement to succeed Martin Sabo at the DFL Fifth District Convention that year. Sabo favored his chief of staff Mike Erlandson. Ellison presented himself to the convention as the leftward most viable candidate and prevailed, leading essentially to a three-way primary that he won that August.

The first revelation that June was Ellison’s Nation of Islam columns published in the University of Minnesota Daily under the pseudonym Keith Hakim. I can’t remember without going back who broke that story, but a local political reporter drew my attention to the story and I wrote about it carefully at the time on Power Line.

I then got a call from an acquaintance who had been trying to get the Star Tribune to cover Ellison’s extensive history with the Nation of Islam. Ellison had been a local leader of the Nation. The acquaintance who called me had a clip file documenting it, going back to the U of M Daily articles.

The acquaintance called me in my office and asked if I would like his clip file. I said yes. He asked me to meet him at a corner in downtown Minneapolis a few blocks from my office for the handoff. He was my Deep Throat on Ellison.

I did a lot of reporting that summer, including an interview with the Daily editor who had been forced to publish Ellison’s columns under his pseudonym despite Daily policy to the contrary. He was still upset about it 15-plus years later.

I also interviewed several law students who had tried to get Ellison to withdraw his sponsorship of the lecture by Kwame Toure at the law school in 1990. They were still upset about it.

I kept getting calls and leads (mostly from prominent Democrats who didn’t want Ellison to be the face of the DFL in Minneapolis) and doing research that year as the Star Tribune performed so pitifully. I wrote an endless series on Power Line called “Who is Keith Ellison?” I summarized my findings in the Weekly Standard article “Louis Farrakhan’s first congressman” just before he was elected as the first Muslim member of Congress that fall. I have a very thick file on him.

You know that the usual progression is from the Nation of Islam to Islam, like Malcolm X. I read Ellison’s memoir My Country, ’Tis of Thee the week it was published. I wrote another Weekly Standard article about the memoir. It’s called “The Ellison elision.”

I turned that article into a Star Tribune column when the book came out in paperback. It’s here. I called that column “Keith Ellison remembers to forget” in honor of the old Elvis Presley number “I Forgot to Remember to Forget.”

One interesting aspect of the memoir is Ellison’s discussion of his conversion to Islam as an undergrad at Wayne State. Ellison omits his extensive involvement with the Nation of Islam from the memoir. He has lied so much about it. It’s incredible. It’s all in the clip file. I posted a few items from it in a Power Line post that was a companion to the 2006 Weekly Standard article. I called that companion post “Keith Ellison for dummies.” (I was thinking of the Star Tribune reporters who repeated Ellison’s lies as facts.) I reposted it last year here.

Ellison ignored the Weekly Standard article I wrote about his memoir, but the Star Tribune article really upset him. He attacked me as a bigot and raised funds off it. Ellison is the only guy I know whose progression ran from Islam to Nation of Islam (snd then back to Islam when it suited his political career). He has never been asked about it. Never. It’s amazing.

Ellison’s support of the killers of Officer Jerry Haaf and his friendship with the gangbanger who planned it are the most disgraceful part of his checkered past. Everything else pales against it. That goes back to his early career in private practice after law school in 1992-1993.

I am proud of the work I have done on Ellison. It all goes back to those two U of M Daily columns he wrote as Keith Hakim. I have never worked harder to less effect on anything in my life.



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