72 Facts About Keith Ellison


Keith Maurice Ellison was born on August 4,1963 and is an American politician and lawyer serving as the 30th attorney general of Minnesota.


Keith Ellison served as the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2017 to 2018 and a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2003 to 2007.


In Congress, Keith Ellison built a reputation as a progressive leader.


Keith Ellison won the race and was reelected five times.


Keith Ellison's district included Minneapolis, the state's largest city, and its inner-ring suburbs.


In Congress, Keith Ellison was a vice-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a chief deputy whip.


Keith Ellison sat on the House Committee on Financial Services.


Keith Ellison was the first Muslim elected to Congress and the first African American representative from Minnesota.


Keith Ellison's profile was raised when he ran for chair of the Democratic National Committee in November 2016, gaining support from progressive groups and US Senators Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer.


Keith Ellison's candidacy prompted renewed scrutiny of his past statements and affiliation with the Nation of Islam, which drew criticism from some moderate Democrats.


Keith Ellison lost to former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, who subsequently appointed Keith Ellison deputy chair, a decision approved by unanimous voice vote of DNC members.


Keith Ellison won the Democratic primary and defeated nominee Republican Doug Wardlow in the general election, becoming the first African American elected to partisan statewide office in Minnesota, as well as the first Muslim in the US to win statewide office.


One of Keith Ellison's brothers is the pastor of "Church of the New Covenant Baptist" in Detroit.


Keith Ellison's youth was influenced by the involvement of his family in the civil rights movement, including his grandfather's work as a member of the NAACP in Louisiana.


Keith Ellison graduated in 1981 from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy, where he was active in sports and a senator in the student government.


Keith Ellison then became executive director of the nonprofit Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis, which specializes in the defense of indigent clients.


Keith Ellison served as the unpaid host of a public affairs talk program at KMOJ radio, and has often volunteered as a track coach for several organizations, working with youth between the ages of five and 18.


In November 2002 Keith Ellison was elected to his first public office, as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives serving House district 58B.


Arlon Lindner for a speech Lindner made that Keith Ellison alleged amounted to a denial that homosexuals were persecuted during the Holocaust.


At the DFL Convention on May 6,2006, Keith Ellison won the party endorsement over nine other candidates, leading 2-to-1 on the first ballot, and winning endorsement on the fourth ballot.


Keith Ellison had failed to pay all or part of his income taxes in five separate years between 1992 and 2000, forcing the state and Internal Revenue Service to put liens on his home.


In 2005 the board opened an investigation, and Keith Ellison was subpoenaed and fined.


Keith Ellison was repeatedly fined for late filings, was sued twice by the Attorney General of Minnesota, and was warned about absent or incomplete disclosures.


Keith Ellison was elected to the House of Representatives on November 7,2006, and sworn in on January 4,2007.


Keith Ellison received national attention for his decision to use an English translation of the Qur'an, translated by British scholar George Sale in 1734, that once belonged to President Thomas Jefferson for his reenacted swearing-in ceremony, which generated both praise and criticism from political pundits.


At the time of his swearing in Keith Ellison said he intended to focus on wages, housing, "relief and justice for the middle class", and ending the US involvement in the Iraq War.


On May 3,2007, Keith Ellison introduced a bill to outlaw universal default, the practice whereby credit card companies raise interest rates on customers who are behind on payments to other creditors.


Keith Ellison, who described the bill as "the beginning of a whole credit reform effort we're going to be pursuing," announced his interest in limiting high interest rates on credit cards and easing the process for those who have a legitimate need to file bankruptcy.


In 2017, after acting chair Donna Brazile resigned, Ellison ran for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, along with Howard Dean, Martin O'Malley, Raymond Buckley, and Jaime R Harrison, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party.


Obama loyalists were uneasy with Keith Ellison, and began looking for a candidate to oppose him, holding meetings with Obama administration labor secretary Thomas Perez.


Opposition arose from Democrats concerned that Keith Ellison, a sitting congressman, would not be able to devote himself to the position full-time.


On November 8,2018, Keith Ellison resigned as Deputy Chair to focus on his upcoming tenure as Attorney General of Minnesota.


On June 5,2018, Keith Ellison announced that he would not seek reelection to a seventh term in Congress in 2018, but would instead run for Minnesota Attorney General.


On November 6,2018, Keith Ellison won the election for Attorney General by more than 100,000 votes.


Keith Ellison denied the accusation and alleged that Alexander had harassed him and threatened to "destroy" him.


Keith Ellison denied her allegations and said in an interview he did not know how to react because he did not wish to demonize her.


On May 31,2020, Keith Ellison accepted Minnesota governor Tim Walz's request that he take over as special prosecutor in the Derek Chauvin case.


Three days later, Keith Ellison's office charged Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd's neck, with second-degree murder, a more serious charge than Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman's original charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.


Keith Ellison charged the other three officers at the scene, whom Freeman's office had not originally charged, with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.


Keith Ellison joined fellow Minnesota freshman Democrat Tim Walz in opposing Bush's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq.


Keith Ellison has supported normalizing Iran-United States relations and reopening an interest section or embassy in Tehran; he was one of only five Democrats in Congress who voted against the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.


On July 25,2007, Keith Ellison voted in the House Judiciary Committee to issue citations of contempt of congress to White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers for "failure to comply with subpoenas on the firings of several federal prosecutors".


Keith Ellison was arrested along with seven other people including US Representatives James McGovern, John Lewis, Donna Edwards, and Lynn Woolsey for civil disobedience in April 2009 when they spoke at the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, DC to protest that the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, had asked international aid groups bringing food, health care and water, to leave Darfur.


Keith Ellison was the second US Representative to endorse Bernie Sanders for president in the 2016 Democratic primary.


Keith Ellison endorsed Hillary Clinton after she secured the party's nomination.


On June 28,2019, Keith Ellison endorsed Bernie Sanders for president, citing Medicare for All.


Keith Ellison endorsed Joe Biden after Biden won the Democratic nomination.


In late March and early April 2007 Keith Ellison was a member of a congressional delegation on a "fact-finding trip to the Middle East".


Keith Ellison called his visit to Islam's third-holiest site, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as "personally moving".


On July 28 and 29,2007, Keith Ellison was among an "all-freshman bipartisan congressional delegation" visiting Iraq, arranged by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and led by Rep.


Keith Ellison said that he respected any politician who visited Iraq, making note of Republican Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who went in February 2007, along with five other governors.


Keith Ellison hears about it every time he goes back to his district.


Keith Ellison visited Norway in January 2008 because of Norway's prominent role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and because of the Norwegian-American heritage of many of his constituents.


In mid-2008 Keith Ellison joined a US House Democracy Assistance Commission delegation that traveled to six African countries, including Liberia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mauritania and Kenya.


Keith Ellison's election has been seen as inspirational to American Muslims, and he encourages civic empowerment through participation in the political process.


Keith Ellison generally "downplayed the role of religion in his drive for office," but he has become active in advocacy for Muslim American civic engagement and civil rights causes on a national level since.


On November 18,2006, Keith Ellison gave a speech called "Imams and Politics" to the Fourth Annual Body Meeting of the North American Imams Federation.


Keith Ellison became involved in this controversy shortly after it erupted when he attempted to arrange a meeting between parties including US Airways executives, the Metropolitan Airports Commission, and other legislators and community members.


On December 27,2006, Keith Ellison spoke at a meeting in Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Detroit for Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength.


On January 2,2007, Beck said on his radio program that Keith Ellison did not take offense at the comments and the two had a friendly chat off the air.


Keith Ellison defended Louis Farrakhan against claims of racism, and further wrote that Farrakhan "is not an anti-Semite" and called affirmative action a "sneaky" form of compensation for slavery, suggesting that white Americans instead pay reparations to blacks.


Minister James Muhammad, a former leader of the Nation of Islam's Twin Cities study group, has said that Keith Ellison served for several years as the group's "chief of protocol", in which capacity he acted as a liaison between Muhammad and local communities.


Awad and Keith Ellison knew each other as they attended the University of Minnesota Law School at the same time.


Keith Ellison stressed that he was supported by individuals, and that the non-profit organization itself did not endorse his candidacy.


Keith Ellison's Republican opponent in the race, Alan Fine, criticized Ellison for accepting these contributions, saying that CAIR was "a group that Democrats say has deep ties to terrorism".


On July 8,2007, Keith Ellison discussed the power of the executive branch in a speech before the organization Atheists for Human Rights.


When later questioned about his comments, Keith Ellison told a reporter that Osama bin Laden, and not the Bush administration, was responsible for the attacks.


Keith Ellison is a Muslim, and although Kim Ellison is not, the Ellisons' four children were raised in the Muslim faith.


Keith Ellison filed for a legal separation from Kim Ellison in 2010, and their divorce was finalized on May 2,2012.


Kim Keith Ellison was elected to the Minneapolis School Board in 2012 as vice-chair and in November 2016 as an at-large member.


Keith Ellison was chosen by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee for its Trailblazer Award.


Keith Ellison was named an Utne Reader visionary in 2011.