Critics Question Keith Ellison’s Move for DNC Chair

Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison. Image:Lorie Schaull via Wikimedia Commons

Rep. Keith Ellison is contending to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee, but his opponents intend to make that as difficult as possible and are using his past against him.

Ellison, who is running against Labor Secretary Tom Perez, has had tax troubles, campaign finance violations and minor legal issues that date back to the 1990s. The discrepancies are leading some to say that he may be an unfit candidates.

In 2006, when Ellison was running for congressman in Minnesota it came to light that his Driver’s License had been suspended multiple times for unpaid parking tickets. He also paid $18,000 to settle a tax debt in which he owed money from not paying taxes from 1992-2000, according to The Hill.

His campaign was also fined in between 2002 and 2004 when the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure found discrepancies in cash balances and unreported contributions.

Criticism from within the Democratic party has been consistent since this news began to circulate. “If you can’t drive or pay taxes, you can’t organize your life, so I concluded early on that he can’t organize for this job,” said Bob Mulholland, a DNC member from California who will vote on the chairmanship in February’s election.

Despite the many reasons some in the DNC are considering Ellison unfit, his supporters have remained loyal. “These minor things, a traffic infraction or taxes, this happens to all of us, none of us are blameless. This does not disqualify you from leadership, it just shows that you’re human,” said Terry Tucker, a Colorado DNC member in support of Ellison, according to The Hill.

Ellison spokesman Brett Morrow balked at the criticism being thrown at Ellison.

“When these issues arose in 2006, Keith handled them directly. And the voters of Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District were never concerned about them again, as they have re-elected Keith 6 times with overwhelming margins,” Morrow said. “DNC members want to know about who will strengthen the Democratic Party’s infrastructure, unite with the grassroots and increase voter turnout. That is how we win in 2018, 2020 and beyond.”