Keith Ellison (politician)

Keith Ellison (politician)

name = Keith Ellison

date of birth= birth date and age|1963|08|04
place of birth= Detroit, Michigan
state = Minnesota
district = 5th
term_start = January 4, 2007
preceded = Martin Olav Sabo
succeeded = Incumbent
party = Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party
religion = Sunni Islam
spouse = Kim Ellison
children = Amirah Ellison
Jeremiah Ellison
Elijah Ellison
Isiah Ellison
alma_mater= Wayne State University, University of Minnesota
occupation= attorney
residence= Minneapolis, Minnesota
website = [ Congressman Keith Ellison]

Keith Maurice Ellison (born August 4, 1963) is an American lawyer and politician belonging to the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. He became the first Muslim [ [ DAWN (Newspaper)] ] cite news
first = Britt
last = Robson
url =
title = Running Man
publisher = City Pages
date= 2006-08-30
accessdate = 2006-11-10
] to be elected to the United States Congress when he won the open seat for Minnesota's 5th congressional district, centered around Minneapolis, in the House of Representatives in 2006. He is also the first African American elected to the House from Minnesota, currently serving in the freshman class of the 110th United States Congress. [cite news
first = Neil
last = MacFarquhar
url =
title = Muslim's Election Is Celebrated Here and in Mideast
work =
publisher = New York Times
page =
date= 2006-10-11
accessdate = 2006-10-11
] Ellison is also active on a national level in advocacy for Muslims in the United States. [ [ North American Imams Federation conference booklet] ] [ [ North American Imamas Federation Web site] ] [ [ 6 Muslim Imams Removed From Plane] ] [ [ Ellison seeks meeting on removal of clerics] ]


Ellison's family has been in America since 1742. [ Congressman Criticizes Election of Muslim"] December 21, 2006. New York Times. Accessed April 6, 2008.] Keith Ellison, the third of five sons, was born and raised a Roman Catholic [ "Keith: The value system that's behind my candidacy"] July 19, 2006. Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Accessed January 3, 2007.] in Detroit, Michigan by his parents Leonard and Clida Ellison, a psychiatrist and a social worker respectively.cite news |title=First Muslim on his way to Congress - he will represent Minnesota, Islam |date=November 19, 2006 |author=Rochelle Olson |publisher =Mcclatchy Newspapers | url= Retrieved on Dec. 6, 2006] Ellison and three of his siblings became lawyers while the other became a doctor. One of his brothers is also the pastor of the Baptist "Church of the New Covenant" in Detroit. Ellison's youth was influenced by the involvement of his family in the civil rights movement, including the work of his grandfather as a member of the NAACP in Louisiana.

He graduated from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy in 1981 where he had been active in sports and the student Senate. [cite web|title=Parent Newsletter for the Week of December 4, 2006 — Congratulations to all Our Newly Elected Cubs| url=|date=December 4, 2005 |publisher= University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy] At age nineteen, while attending Wayne State University in Detroit, Ellison converted from Catholicism to Islam. [cite news|url=|title=Islamic Convert Wins House Nomination|author=Martiga Lohn|publisher=Associated Press|date=September 14, 2006] [cite news|title=Keith Ellison may be first Muslim in U.S. Congress|author=Todd Melby|date=September 17, 2006|url=] [cite news|title='I'm a Sunni Muslim'|url=|publisher=Newsweek|date=January 4, 2007|author=Michael Isikoff] After graduating with a B.A. in Economics in 1987, he married his high school sweetheart and moved to Minneapolis to attend the University of Minnesota Law School. While attending law school, Ellison wrote several articles in support of Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, which caused controversy in his 2006 election campaign "(see below)". In 1990 he graduated with a degree of Juris Doctor.cite web | url = | title =Keith Ellison (DFL) 58B | publisher = Minnesota House of RepresentativesRetrieved on Nov. 16, 2006] cite web|last = Condon|first = Patrick|date= 2006-07-06|url =|title = Muslim seeks both House seat and a place in history|work = Associated Press|publisher = The Bay State Banner|accessdate = 2006-11-04]

As of 2006, Ellison and his wife Kim, a high school mathematics teacher, [ Ellison official campaign biography] Accessed January 3, 2007.] have four children born between 1989 and 1997.cite news|page=16|title=Making the choice |date=January 24, 2003| url=| publisher=Session Weekly — Minnesota House of Representatives|format=PDF Retrieved on Dec. 14, 2006] They have a daughter, Amirah; and three sons, Jeremiah, Elijah, and Isaiah. Kim is not a Muslim, but their four children have been raised in that faith. [ "Ellison may become the first Muslim in US Congress"] September 13, 2006. American Muslim Perspective Online Magazine. Accessed January 4, 2007.] During Ellison's 2006 campaign, Kim Ellison revealed that she has been living with "moderate" multiple sclerosis for several years. [ "Kim Ellison..."] July 15, 2006. Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Accessed January 3, 2006.]

After law school Ellison worked with the firm of Lindquist & Vennum for three years where he was a litigator specializing in civil rights, employment, and criminal defense law.cite web | url = | title =Keith Ellison (DFL) 58B | publisher = Minnesota House of RepresentativesRetrieved on Nov. 16, 2006] Ellison then became executive director of the nonprofit Legal Rights Center in Minneapolis that specialized in the defense of indigent clients. Upon leaving the Legal Rights Center, Keith entered private practice with the law firm Hassan & Reed Ltd, specializing in trial practice. [cite web|title=About Keith:bio, Keith Ellison for Congress|url= Retrieved on Jan. 7, 2007]

In addition to his work for the Legal Rights Center, Ellison has also been regularly involved in community service. He served as the unpaid host of a public affairs talk program at KMOJ radio. His has also often volunteered as a track coach for several organizations, working with youth between the ages of 5 and 18. He said, "It’s a great community building device because it’s for all ages and all genders. Everyone can find a way to fit in."

Minnesota Legislative record

83rd Minnesota Legislative Session

In Nov. 2002, Ellison was elected to his first public office, as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives serving [ House District 58B] . At the time he took his seat, his party was the smallest House minority in Minnesota history. [cite news| url=|title=A conservative sweep|author=Michael Khoo |publisher=Minnesota Public Radio|date=August 10, 2003] During this session, Ellison was appointed to the Governmental Operations & Veterans Affairs Policy Committee, the Judiciary Policy & Finance Committee, and the Local Government & Metropolitan Affairs Committee. In this session he spearheaded an ethics complaint against Rep. Arlon Lindner concerning remarks about homosexuals in the Holocaust.

84th Minnesota Legislative Session

Ellison carried 84% of the votes and was re-elected to the seat for Minnesota’s House District 58B in the 2004 election. He began to serve in the 84th Minnesota Legislative Session (1/4/2005 to 1/2/2007). During the 84th session, Ellison served on the Civil Law & Elections Committee, and the Public Safety Policy & Finance Committee.With his ascent to the National Legislature, Ellison's seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives was filled by Augustine Willie Dominguez, a Latino community activist and fellow member of the DFL. [ [ Minnesota Public Radio] ]

House of Representatives

2006 campaign

Ellison's House seat was previously held by Martin Olav Sabo, whose announcement of his intention to retire precipitated Ellison's candidacy. The 5th district is one of eight congressional districts in Minnesota. [ [ Minnesota Public Radio] ]

In the primary, Ellison faced former state senator Ember Reichgott Junge, Minneapolis city council member Paul Ostrow, and Sabo's chief of staff Mike Erlandson, whom Sabo had endorsed. Ellison won the primary on September 12, 2006 with 41% of the vote. [cite web|url=|title=Unofficial Results Primary|publisher=Minnesota Secretary of State|date=2006-12-25Retrieved on Dec. 25, 2006]

In the November 2006 election, Ellison faced Republican Alan Fine, the Green Party's Jay Pond, and Tammy Lee of the Independence Party. Ellison won the seat with 56% of the vote. [cite news| url= | title=Ellison breaks ground as Muslim, black|author=Aron Kahn|publisher=St. Paul Pioneer Press|date=November . 08, 2006] [cite web|url=|publisher=Minnesota Secretary of State|title=Unofficial Results General Election|date=November . 7, 2006] Ellison is only the fourth person to represent the district since 1943.

2008 campaign

Ellison faces prison chaplain Barb Davis White in the November election. He is overwhelmingly favored for a second term; the 5th is so heavily Democratic (it has been in DFL hands since 1963) that it is very unlikely he will face significant opposition in the foreseeable future.

In the 2008 election cycle, Keith Ellison has received three times more money from Individuals than PACs ($541,079 v. $166,855). Ellison has received twice as much money from Out-Of-State donors than In-State donors ($223,117 v. $79,819) and received more in contributions from Health this year than any other economic sector. Ellison has received slightly more money from Labor PACs than Business PACs in the 2008 election cycle. Of the 10 member Minnesota delegation, Ellison ranked seventh in the amount of earmarked dollars he secured. [ [ "Keith Ellison At a Glance" from] ]

Congressional career


On Dec. 1, 2006 Ellison announced he had hired Kari Moe as his Chief of Staff. She had previously served in the same position for the late Minnesota U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone. [cite web|url=| title= Ellison Taps Former Wellstone Senate Office Director to Lead Congressional Staff Team|date=December 1, 2006 Retrieved on Jan. 3, 2007] Ellison later announced that Brian Elliott (previously of the Clean Water Action Alliance of Minnesota) would serve as his District Director, and Trayshana Thomas (who worked with Ellison in his legal practice and throughout all stages of his political career) was made his District Scheduler. [cite web|title= Congressman-elect Keith Ellison Announces Local Staff Hires| url=| date= December 27, 2006 Retrieved on Jan. 3, 2007]


Ellison was appointed to the Financial Services Committee. He said he intends to focus on wages and housing for "relief and justice for the middle-class". [cite news|title=Ellison, on verge of historic first term, unruffled by critics|publisher=The Associated Press|url=| date=1/3/2007 Retrieved on Jan. 3, 2007] He will be joined on this committee by fellow Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).cite news|title=Ellison, Bachmann get committee posts|date=January 10, 2007|url=|publisher=Star and Tribune| author= Rob Hotakainen Retrieved on Jan. 15, 2007]

On January 10, 2007 Ellison was appointed to the Judiciary Committee [cite news|title=Ellison named to Judiciary Committee|publisher=The Associated Press|url=| date=1/10/2007 Retrieved on Jan. 10, 2007] by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA). This is a position he "had lobbied for" and he called his appointment "an honor and a privilege". He spoke of his goals for this appointment, "I look forward to pursuing a progressive agenda in the committee, including the restoration of American citizens' civil liberties that have come under increasing attack over the past six years." Other issues he intends to focus on while in this post are "community-oriented policing efforts, immigration, intellectual property rights and privacy concerns including the Internet."

Because of Ellison’s campaign position calling for an investigation for the impeachment of President George W. Bush, his appointment to the Judiciary Committee (which has jurisdiction on these matters) was hailed by those seeking to have the president impeached.cite news|url=|title=Will Ellison pursue impeachment? Not for now, he says|date=January 25, 2007|author=Rob Hotakainen|publisher=Star Tribune Retrieved on Jan. 27, 2007]

Committee Assignments

*Financial Services Committee
**Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology
**Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit
**Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity
*Judiciary Committee
**Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law
**Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties


Votes with party in 100-Hour Plan

In his first week as a congressman, Ellison voted with the majority of other Democrats to raise the minimum wage, voted for stem cell research, and voted to allow Medicare to negotiate pharmaceutical prices. [cite web| title = U.S. House of Representatives Roll Call Votes 110th Congress — 1st Session (2007)| publisher = The Clerk of the House| url =| accessdate = 2007-01-16]

Opposition to increasing troop levels

Ellison joined fellow Minnesota freshman Democrat, Tim Walz, in opposing President Bush's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq. [cite web| last = Diaz| first = Kevin| title = Minnesota delegation offers cool response| publisher = Star Tribune| date = 2007-01-08| url =| accessdate = 2007-01-09] On January 10, 2007 President Bush announced his plans for the Iraq War troop surge of 2007. The gist of this announcement had been known around the capitol for over a week, and the Associated Press interviewed Ellison on his reaction to the idea on January 8, 2007, he stated that it was “way too late, way too little …So rather than do something small and ineffective, why not get about the business of what we're going to have to do eventually, which is to begin to end the occupation?”cite news|title=Rep. Ellison Wants Forces Out of Iraq| author=Frederic J. Frommer|publisher=The Associated Press|date= January 10, 2007; 7:50 AM| url= Retrieved on Jan. 13, 2007] Ellison called for an immediate withdrawal in Iraq: "We could describe it as a redeployment or withdrawal, but I think we have run the course in terms of our ability to resolve this conflict militarily. I think we need to have a political and economic and diplomatic engagement, and we need to encourage the forces that are in Iraq to begin to resolve the violence in Iraq.” When asked if he would support Bush’s call for an additional $100 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ellison said “I want to see (the request) first, I want to actually look at it, but I'm not inclined to continue to support a war or an occupation that he has no plans to get us out of, and which is so costly in terms of dollars and lives of American soldiers but also Iraqis.” The White House, when asked for a reaction to the comments, referred to a previous statement by press secretary Tony Snow, “Democrats will have to decide where they stand on two issues: ‘No. 1, do you want Iraq to succeed, and, if so, what does that mean? And, No. 2, do you believe in supporting the troops as you say, and how do you express that support?’”

Iraq War military funding vote

After President Bush vetoed HR 1591 that provided military funding for the Iraq War (because it contained timetables for withdrawal), Ellison and fellow Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum joined with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top House Democrats in voting 'no' to H.R. 2206 that provided the funding without any timetables. The bill passed the House on a 280 to 142 margin. [cite news|date=May 25, 2007|title=Walz breaks rank, supports war funds|author=Brian Voerding | publisher=Winona Daily News|url=]

Credit reform

On May 3, 2007 Ellison introduced a bill to outlaw universal default, the practice whereby credit card companies raise interest rates on customers if they are behind on payments to any other creditors. The bill was also supported by House Financial Services Committee chairman Rep. Barney Frank. Ellison who described the bill as “the beginning of a whole credit reform effort we’re going to be pursuing,” also 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. [cite news|publisher=Associated Press|title= Ellison's 1st Bill To End Bad Credit Card Practice|url=|date= May 2, 2007]

Obama endorsement

On Feb. 20, 2007 Ellison endorsed the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama saying “"He speaks with a unifying spirit.” He said he supports “Obama's message of an open and fair economy, a balanced prosperity and clear opposition to the war in Iraq.” When asked about Hillary Clinton, he promised he would support whomever won the Democratic nomination, and felt that at this stage of the campaign Obama would “keep her honest”. [cite news|title=Ellison endorses Obama, lauds 'unifying spirit'|url=|date=February 20, 2007|publisher=Star Tribune Retrieved on Feb. 27, 2007] [cite news|date=February 21, 2007 |title=Keith Ellison Endorses Obama For President|url=|publisher=CBS Retrieved on Feb. 27, 2007]

Bill to impeach Cheney

On June 28, 2007 Ellison became a cosponsor with Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney for "high crimes and misdemeanors." Other Democratic Reps. sponsoring the bill were William Clay (MO), Janice Schakowsky (IL), Albert Russell Wynn (MD), Yvette Clarke (NY), Hank Johnson (GA), and California's Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters. Ellison's spokesperson said the effort was "largely to send a message" and the Representative "has no illusions that this is going anywhere and that's fine. We've got more important things to do that affect people's daily lives. He basically signed on out of principle, as an expression of the importance of the rule of law — that nobody is above the law, not even the vice president." [cite news|title=Ellison signs as cosponsor of bill to impeach Cheney|publisher=Associated Press|date=June 29, 2007|url=]

Critique of Bush Administration policies

On July 8, 2007 Ellison gave a speech in Edina, Minnesota where he denounced President Bush's commutation of Lewis Libby's sentence, "If Libby gets pardoned, then he should not have the cover of the Fifth Amendment. He's going to have to come clean and tell the truth. Now, he could get Gonzales-itis [referring to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales] , you know, with 71 lapses of memory within a two-hour period."cite news|title=Atheists applaud Ellison's views on Cheney, Libby, 9/11|author=Mike Kaszuba|publisher=StarTribune|url=] He also criticized Bush's White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives saying "This is basically the Department of Religious Outreach ... it's essentially a public-relations outreach arm for the Bush administration to reach out to the far right of the evangelical Christian movement. That's really all it is."

Votes for contempt citations

On July 25, 2007 Ellison joined fellow Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee in voting 22-17 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".cite news|title=Ellison votes with majority on contempt citations against White House aides|date=July 25, 2007|url=|publisher=Associated Press] When asked about the President's offer to allow them to testify in private and without a transcript, Ellison stated "That won't do. There's no point of accountability. They have to be sworn. These kind of measures are necessary to ensure that truth-telling occurs." Having passed the Committee the citations moved on to be voted upon by the full House.

Criticism of China's human rights policies

According to, "U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison has become the first Minnesota elected official to step forward and address the connections between the Summer Olympics and China's foreign policy and domestic human rights policies. The Democratic 5th District congressman issued a remarkably strong statement Friday [March 21, 2008] that broadly criticized the Chinese government for its Tibet policy and for its relationship with Sudan's leaders 'as they commit genocide on the citizens of Darfur.' " [ [ "Ellison becomes first Minnesota official to link Summer Olympics and China policies" from]

Travels abroad

Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian territories

In late March - early April 2007 Ellison was a member of a congressional delegation on a "fact-finding trip to the Middle East."cite news|title=House Speaker Pelosi, Ellison, Tour Jerusalem|date=March 31, 2007|publisher=Associated Press|url=] The group included Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Tom Lantos (D-CA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Nick Rahall (D-WV) & Dave Hobson (R-OH) and was led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The delegation visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall. Ellison called his visit to Islam's third-holiest site the Al-Aqsa Mosque as "personally moving".cite news|title=Ellison, Pelosi Meet with Israeli Officials|date=April 1, 2007|publisher=Associated Press|url=] cite news|title=Rep.: Israel Said No Syria Attack Plan |publisher=Associated Press|date=April 8, 2007 |url=|author=Frederic Frommer] The group met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and discussed the peace plan divised by the Saudis in 2002. The delegation also met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Pelosi also addressed the Israeli Knesset. The group's visit to Syria was criticized by the Bush administration which restated its view that the United States should not have diplomatic relations with state sponsors of terrorism. While there the delegation conveyed a message from Olmert to Syrian President Bashar Assad that "Israel is interested in peace if Damascus stops supporting terrorism". In Lebanon the group met with Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Speaker Nabih Berri. They also visited the grave of Rafik Hariri and met with his son Saad Hariri.cite web|url=|title=Congressional Delegation Statement on Middle East Trip|date=4/05/07] In Saudi Arabia the group spoke to King Abdullah and his Shura Council.cite news|title=Pelosi raises issue of female politicians in Saudi Arabia|publisher=Associated Press|date=April 5, 2001|url=] They praised his peace plan and advocated a greater role for women in his nation's political process. Ellison's inclusion in the delegation was praised by Council member Abdul-Rahman al-Zamel. Ellison called the King a "visionary leader" and that "Even being in the same country where Mecca and Medina are located was personally uplifting for me." Ellison also said he hoped his presence as a Muslim among the delegation conveyed a message to the Israelis and Palestinians that "people can come together. Reconciliation is possible." He also stressed he was there "to learn and did not consider himself qualified to mediate in the conflict."


On July 28-29th 2007 Ellison was among an "all-freshman bipartisan congressional delegation" visiting Iraq, arranged by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and led by Rep. Jerry McNerney, (D-CA).cite news|title=Ellison is part of Iraq trip arranged by Defense chief|author=Jake Sherman|publisher=Star Tribune|date=July 29, 2007|url=] cite news|title=Ellison returns from trip to Iraq|publisher=Associated Press|url=|date=July 30, 2007] Before the trip Ellison told reporters that he would be stopping over in Germany to visit wounded US soldiers being treated there. He also stated that he respected any politician who visited Iraq, making note of Republican Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (who went in February 10-11, 2007 with five other governors [cite news|title=Pawlenty makes surprise trip to Iraq|date=February 10, 2004|url=|publisher=MPR] ). Ellison said "If this country is going to ask these young people to stand in a war zone, their political leadership should visit them." In Iraq the delegation met with Iraqi and U.S. military officials, including Gen. David Petraeus. The group in flak vests and helmets visited Ramadi in the Anbar province, Ellison noted "we did see people walking around the streets of Ramadi, going back and forth to the market." He also noted that he was impressed that Maj. Gen. Walter Gaskin, U.S. commander in the Anbar province, greeted people with "as-salama aleikum. And they would respond back with smiles and waves. I don't want to overplay it. There were no flowers. There was no clapping. There was no parade. But there was a general level of respect and calm that I thought was good. The success in Ramadi is not just because of bombs and bullets, but because the U.S. and Iraqi military and the Iraqi police are partnering with the tribal leadership and the religious leadership. So they're not trying to just bomb people into submission. What they're doing is respecting the people, giving the people some control over their own lives." While in Ramadi, Ellison met "with two sheiks, who oversee several hundred thousand congregants." Ellison told reporters that "They were very upset and concerned that al-Qaeda is misrepresenting Islam. And they were talking to me about what I can possibly do to work with them to give a clearer, more accurate picture of what Islam is all about." Ellison, who assists the State Department's "outreach effort aimed at improving the image of the U.S. in the Muslim world" told them he would help any way he could. Ellison said that local leaders in Ramadi told him of how they "partnered with U.S. and Iraqi military officials to virtually rid al-Qaeda from the city. There have been fewer anti-U.S. sermons as the violence has been reduced and religious leaders meet regularly with U.S. military officials." After the trip Ellison, stated that he was still certain "it was a mistake for the U.S. to invade Iraq. But there are 150,000 American soldiers there now, and I care very deeply about them. I also care about the Iraqi people. I don't want to see them suffer."

econd trip to Israel

Soon after returning home from his trip to Iraq, Ellison joined with 19 other Congress members (mostly freshmen Democrats) on a week long trip to Israel sponsored by the America Israel Education Federation. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) led the group and personally invited Ellison to join them for a stay from August 12-18, 2007.cite news|title=Ellison to take weeklong trip to Israel|author=Kevin Diaz and Jake Sherman|publisher=Star Tribune|date=August 1, 2007|url=] The group met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Ellison's spokesperson told reporters that the trip was "a natural extension of his visit to Iraq" and that "the Middle East peace issue is important to the diverse communities of his Minneapolis-area district -- from the Jewish Community Relations Council to the patrons of the Holy Land Middle Eastern eatery on Lake Street and Central Avenue. He hears about it every time he goes back to his district." The group traveled to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the northern Galilee region, Ramallah, and viewed the Israeli border with Lebanon.

Advocacy for Islamic causes

With his victory to the United States House of Representatives Ellison became the first Muslim elected to the Federal Government and the highest Muslim elected official in the United States, second to the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad. Ellison joins State Del. Saqib Ali (D-MD), State Senator Larry Shaw (D-NC), State Rep. Saghir "Saggy" Tahir (R-NH) and Congressman André Carson (D-IN) as the known elected Muslim officials in the United States of America as of 2008.cite web| title=American Muslims in 2006 elections|url=| date=2006-11-16| author=Abdus Sattar Ghazali | publisher=Al-Jazeerah Retrieved on Dec. 11, 2006] Ellison’s election has been seen as inspirational to American Muslims, encouraging civic empowerment through participation in the political process. [cite news|date=10 December 2006 |url=| title=Local Muslims Aim for Greater Political Involvement] cite news|title=More Muslims Gaining Political Ground | author=Michelle Boorstein | publisher=Washington Post |date=November 30, 2006| url= Retrieved on Dec. 10, 2006] Ellison generally “downplayed the role of religion in his drive for office,” [cite news|title=Oath on Qur'an: Activism or an act of faith?| author=Rob Hotakainen|publisher=Star Tribune|date=November 30, 2006 ] but since his 2006 election he has become active in advocacy for Islamic causes on a national level.

Council on American-Islamic Relations

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was an ardent supporter of Ellison’s 2006 campaign, a fact that caused some controversy (see below). Two days after the 2006 election, CAIR announced Ellison would be a keynote speaker at their annual banquet in Virginia less than two weeks later. [cite news|url=|title=First Muslim in Congress to Speak at CAIR Event in VA|author=CAIR|authorlink=Council on American-Islamic Relations
work = Press release|date= 2006-11-09|url=|accessdate=2006-11-10|quote = (WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/9/06) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced today that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in Congress, will join other elected officials as a keynote speaker November 18th at the Washington-based civil rights group's 12th Annual Banquet in Arlington, Va.
] According to a CAIR press release, this would be Ellison's “first major address” post-election.

On November 13, 2006 the Star Tribune reported Ellison said he “would not be the keynote speaker at the annual banquet for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)”. Acknowledging that “His appearance had already been announced by CAIR…Ellison said it [the apparently mistaken announcement] was the result of a ‘natural, normal miscommunication.’” [cite news | title =Newcomers prepare for the 110th Congress | first =Rob | last =Hotakainen | publisher =Star Tribune |date=November 13, 2006 | url = Retrieved on Nov. 16, 2006] Though Ellison was not able to attend the event in person he sent a videotaped address. [cite web | title=First US Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, Addresses CAIR Banquet | publisher =CAIR, WASHINGTON, D.C. | url=|date = 2006-11-21Retrieved on Nov. 21, 2006] [ [ Keith Ellison's address] . Council on American-Islamic Relations.]

North American Imams Federation

On Nov. 18, 2006 Ellison gave a speech called “Imams and Politics” to the Fourth Annual Body Meeting of the North American Imams Federation.cite web| url= |title=North American Imams Federation conference booklet| publisher= North American Imams Federation|format=PDF] The Federation' materials presented the issues to be outlined in Ellison's speech as follows: "Many Muslims around the United States are involved in political activities at different levels. Recognizing the sensitivity of political issues and the potential for divisiveness within the communities as a result of divergent political views, Imams must be able to provide Muslims with the proper guidance and educate them on the etiquettes of any political involvement within the Islamic context. Questions also arise on whether Imams and Islamic centers should be involved in politics at all and what the extent of this involvement should be, therefore Imams should have the ability to address these concerns. Overall, it is important that Imams are aware and understand the general political climate of their communities and be especially conversant with the issues that affect Muslims." Ellison also took part in "Community Night" with Imam Siraj Wahhaj, and Imam Dr. Omar Shahin. This was “for Imams to meet and interact with community members.” Some of the participants of this meeting became involved in the Flying Imams controversy after being removed from an Arizona bound plane for concerning behavior. [cite news| title=6 Muslim Imams Removed From Plane| publisher=Star and Tribune|date=November . 21, 2006 | url= Retrieved on Dec. 11, 2006] 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. [cite news| title=Ellison seeks meeting on removal of clerics| author=Rochelle Olson| publisher= Star Tribune|date=November 24, 2006 |url=]

Muslim American Society and the Islamic Circle of North America

On Dec. 24, 2006 Ellison spoke at a convention held at Dearborn, Michigan for the Muslim American Society and the Islamic Circle of North America. The convention offered workshops and panels about civil rights, political engagement, and proselytizing. Ellison told the 3,000 in attendance "Muslims, you're up to bat right now... How do you know that you were not brought right here to this place to learn how to make this world better? How do you know that Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala (praised and exalted is He) did not bring you here so that you could understand how to teach people what tolerance was, what justice was? How do you know that you're not here to teach this country?"cite news|title=1st Muslim congressman thrills crowd in Dearborn|date=December 25, 2006| author=Niraj Warikoo| Detroit Free Press| url=] He spoke about how he and his staff have faced the difficulties brought out by the Quran Oath Controversy of the 110th United States Congress,"We had faith in Allah. And we patiently endured this adversity. And facing adversity bravely and with patience in the faith in Allah is an Islamic value. That's what it means to be a Muslim." He anticipated more challenges for him and all American Muslims in the future "We're going to continue to face them. They're not going to stop right away. But if you, and me too, stick together, if we believe in Allah, [subhanahu wa ta'ala] , if we turn to the Quran for guidance, we'll find an answer to the questions we have. And we will find that we are an asset and a plus not only to our own community, but to this country, and to this whole world." "You can't back down. You can't chicken out. You can't be afraid. You got to have faith in Allah, and you've got to stand up and be a real Muslim.'" [cite news|title=1st Muslim congressman thrills crowd in Dearborn|date=December 26, 2006|author=Niraj Warikoo| publisher=Detroit Free Press|url= Retrieved on Dec. 28, 2006] He again stated his resolve to use the Quran during his oath ceremony. He told the audience to look for a divine purpose in any hardship they might face "Before you begin to think that some hardship has befallen you, you need to stop and thank Allah. Because this controversy [over the Quran oath] has [benefited America because it] ...made people dust off their Constitution and actually read it."

MOSES interfaith group

On Dec. 27 Ellison spoke at a meeting in Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Detroit for Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength (MOSES). The meeting was with leaders from the Catholic, Muslim, and Arab-American communities, along with members of the organized labor movement. He told those in attendance that the principles of Islam guide his life, but he has no intention of imposing his faith on others, ""I'm not a religious leader, I've never led religious services of any kind. I'm not here to be a preacher, but in terms of political agenda items, my faith informs me." He addressed the Quran Oath Controversy of the 110th United States Congress and said that "religion should be something that unites, rather than divide people...'They've never actually tried to explore how religion should connect us, they're into how religion divides us. ...They haven't really my faith connects me to you.'" [cite news|date=Wed, December 27, 2006|title=Ellison says faith won't be exploited| author=Niraj Warikoo| publisher=Detroit Free Press|url= Retrieved on Dec. 28, 2006]

ISNA luncheon speaker

Ellison was listed as the keynote speaker for the Community Service Recognition Luncheon on September 1, 2007 during the Islamic Society of North America 2007 annual convention. [cite web|title =Community Service Recognition Luncheon|publisher =Islamic Society of North America|url=|accessdate =2007-08-31 ] [cite web|title =Upholding Faith, Serving Humanity|work =ISNA Program|publisher =Islamic Society of North America| url=|format =PDF| accessdate=2007-08-31]

The video of his speech can be seen here:

Promoting US with the State Department

Two months after taking office Ellison met "with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other top State Department officials to talk about showcasing his story as part of their public diplomacy efforts in the Muslim world."cite news|title=Ellison taking on role in U.S. image building|author=Kevin Diaz|publisher= McClatchy News Service| url= | March 7, 2007] According to the Star Tribune, Ellison was "profiled three times by the State Department’s overseas press bureau." He also "did a Voice of America interview from his office, where an American flag was placed conspicuously behind his desk for the cameras." In the interview which was set to play in the Middle East and South Asia, Ellison stressed global inclusiveness and quoted verse 49:13 of the Qur’an "Oh humanity, we created you from a single pair…" Ellison also accepted the Bush administrations request to be part of a "teleconference with Karen Hughes, the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy. The White House has asked that the teleconference promote American values and confront ideological support for terrorism around the world." The Voice of America’s Faiz Rehman, ("a Pakistani native and senior political producer") applauded Ellison's cooperation saying "He is the most famous freshman congressman in the world." It was noted that after he took his oath of office he was surrounded by the foreign press, intrigued in part by the oath controversy, who "had to be ushered out of his office after he took his oath to make room for home-state news crews." Ellison has been "featured in a series of articles written for foreign dissemination by the Department's Bureau of International Information Programs." Including an article that was translated into Persian and Arabic that "highlighted the diversity of his constituents in Minnesota, ranging from Swedes and Norwegians to 'the largest Somali immigrant community in America.'" In his work in cooperation with the state department, Ellison stresses the religious freedom available in the US, saying things like "Religious tolerance has a much longer pedigree in America than some of the intolerance we've seen lately." Even in his work with the State Department he remained critical of President Bush's Iraq policy saying "he wants people around the world to know that 'there are many Americans who want to relate to the rest of the world in terms of cooperation, not military domination.'" Ellison staffers told reporters that "the State Department has shown no signs of squeamishness about publicizing his criticism of the war." When asked about working with elements of the Bush administration Ellison said "Hey, my country first. We can work out our political differences later. I've said I'm willing to do whatever I can to make some friends for America."


Farrakhan and Nation of Islam ties

While a law student in 1989 and 1990, Ellison wrote several columns as Keith E. Hakim in the student newspaper, the "Minnesota Daily". "The first article defended Louis Farrakhan against accusations of antisemitism."cite news
first = Alan
last = Cooperman
url =
title = Muslim Candidate Plays Defense
work = Washington Post
publisher = The Washington Post Company
page = A03
date= 2006-09-11
accessdate = 2006-09-11
- "Ellison acknowledged last week that his driver's license had been suspended earlier in the year for failure to pay fines. He said he defended a leader of the Vice Lords gang, Sharif Willis, because Willis was working with local police to broker a gang peace. And he said he was now up-to-date on tickets, taxes and financial filings."] , defended Nation of Islam spokesman Khalid Abdul Muhammad, and spoke in the voice of a Nation of Islam advocate." The second column "called affirmative action a 'sneaky' form of compensation for slavery, suggesting instead that white Americans pay reparations to blacks." The third suggested the creation of a separate state for black residents. [ [ Minnesota Daily archive] ] [ [ Minnesota Daily archive] ]

In 1995, Ellison, writing an editorial as Keith X. Ellison, stated that Farrakhan is not an anti-Semite.cite news
author = Keith X Ellison
title = Editorial cartoon insulted our intelligence
work = Insight News
publisher = Graphic Services, Inc.
page = 2
date= 1995-11-06
accessdate = 2006-10-27
quote = The cartoon in the 10/17/95 edition of the Star Tribune, in which two Black boys lamented that their only 'role models' were a 'wife-beater and an anti-semite,' O. J. Simpson and the Honorable Louis Farrakhan respectively, serves as yet another bit of evidence as to why the Star Tribune is known alternatively as the 'Johannesburg Times' and the 'most ridiculed newspaper' in America.
] [cite web
work=Keith Ellison for dummies
] The same year, Ellison was identified as a member of the Nation of Islam in the "Star Tribune". [cite news
title=`Flamethrower' Muhammad's fiery speech stirs `U' crowd
work=Star Tribune

In 1997, when Joanne Jackson, executive director of the Minneapolis Initiative Against Racism (MIAR), allegedly said that, "Jews are among the most racist white people", Ellison, using his religious name Mohammed, read a statement supporting her on behalf of the The Minneapolis-St. Paul Study Group of the Nations of Islam: " [We] stand by Ms. Jackson. We stand by the truth contained in the remarks attributed to her, and by her right to express her view without sanction. Here is why we support Ms. Jackson: She is correct about Minister Farrakhan. He is not a racist. He is also not an anti-Semite. This widespread and unfair practice of whites sanctioning blacks for not denouncing Minister Farrakhan represents a racist double standard, and is an impediment to any honest dialogue about race. If black people are to ever possess a collective sense of self-respect and self-determination, they must not genuflect whenever powerful whites make the unreasonable demand to denounce Minister Farrakhan. Minister Farrakhan said he did not like the tension between the black and Jewish communities, and that he was open to dialogue with any groups as long as they did not set any conditions."cite web
work=Keith Ellison for dummies
] cite news
author = Jim Parsons
title = Defections threaten anti-racism panel
work = Star Tribune
publisher = The Star Tribune Company
page = B1
date= 1997-02-03
accessdate = 2006-10-26
quote = The Minneapolis Initiative Against Racism (MIAR) may be in danger of splintering because of internal friction that has surfaced since the organization's executive director, Joanne Jackson, made controversial comments about Jews.
] Ellison later claimed "While some at that meeting justified her comments, I spoke out in favor of increased dialogue between the Jewish and African-American communities."cite web
work=Keith Ellison for dummies (also from, md5sum 183a0cafaa5bc4fc35f7b12a354e5302)

In 1998, during his Minnesota State Legislature House campaign, as Keith Ellison-Muhammad he said he had an affiliation with the Nation of Islam, but "rejected anti-Jewish attitudes".cite news
author = D. Eric Marmon
title = Keith Ellison-Muhammad will run for house 58B seat
work = Insight News
publisher = Graphic Services, Inc.
year= 1998
accessdate = 2006-10-27
] [cite web
work=Keith Ellison for dummies

Questions about Ellison's involvement with the Nation of Islam arose during his 2006 campaign. After winning the Democratic party nomination in May, he wrote a letter to the local Jewish Community Relations Council where he reportedly "asserted that his involvement with the Nation of Islam had been limited to an 18-month period around the time of the Million Man March in 1995, that he had been unfamiliar with the Nation of Islam's anti-Semitic views during his involvement with the group, and that he himself had never expressed such views."cite news
author = Scott W. Johnson
url =
title = Louis Farrakhan's First Congressman
work = The Weekly Standard
publisher = News America Incorporated
date= 2006-10-09
accessdate = 2006-11-13
] cite web
title=The excuses keep on coming for Ellison's behavior
first = Katherine
last = Kersten
work = Star Tribune
date= 2006-09-17
] He also stated that he was never a member of the Nation of Islam, but only worked with it to organize the Minnesota contingent to the Million Man March.

In Ellison's letter, he denounced the Nation of Islam and Farrakhan, writing "I wrongly dismissed concerns that they [Farrakhan's remarks] were anti-Semitic. They were and are anti-Semitic and I should have come to that conclusion earlier than I did." [cite news| title=Candidate finds past ties a real bind | publisher=Chicago Tribune |date=June 30, 2006 | page=7|url=,1,5656742.story?page=1&coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed] He explained his previous views, saying that he, "did not adequately scrutinize the positions and statements of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, and Khalid Muhammed."cite web
work=Keith Ellison for dummies (also from, md5sum f702ac92891e518fdcc447360306e0af)
] He also stated that "any kind of discrimination and hate are wrong. This has always been my position"

Despite his work with the Nation of Islam, Ellison was backed by the publisher of "The American Jewish World", a local Twin Cites newspaper. [ [ "Bombshell": American Jewish World endorses Ellison] ,Sep 01, 2006, 3:18 PM CDT, Paul Schmelzer, "Minnesota Monitor"]

CAIR campaign contributions

During the 2006 election Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), flew to Minneapolis. Along with James Yee (the former Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo Bay), Awad spoke at an August 25th fundraiser for Ellison. [cite news|title=A Muslim for the Hill?|publisher=Newsweek| url=| author=Lee Hudson Teslik |date=September 13, 2006 Retrieved on Jan. 3, 2007] According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune Ellison accepted thousands of dollars from Nihad Awad and another leader of CAIR, “Awad donated $2,000 to Ellison's campaign in July, and at least one other CAIR employee gave $1,000. The donations are listed on Ellison's campaign finance reports, and he said he has nothing to hide.” [cite news|title=GOP's attack on Ellison focuses on U.S. Muslim| publisher=Minneapolis Star and Tribune|date= September 17, 2006] Ellison stressed he was supported by individuals within CAIR but had not been endorsed by the organization itself, “…Nor am I endorsed by CAIR. Certain individuals have donated to my campaign”. [cite news| title=Sparks fly at 5th District debate| author=Brandt Williams| publisher=Minnesota Public Radio|date=October 18, 2006| url=] His Republican opponent in the race, Alan Fine, criticized Ellison for accepting these contributions. Fine said that CAIR was "a group that Democrats say has deep ties to terrorism".cite news
url=|title=Lee posts photo with Sabo; Fine ad attacks Ellison|first = Olson |last = Rochelle|work = Star Tribune|date= 2006-10-11|accessdate=2006-11-04|quote = At the same time, Republican Alan Fine on Thursday pressed on with attacks against Ellison, sending a mailing to 100,000 voters criticizing Ellison for accepting campaign contributions from leaders of the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
] The Fine campaign quoted Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) alleging CAIR's "ties to terrorism" and "its association with groups that are suspect." Many conservatives and Jewish groups claim CAIR is rooted in the Hamas movement and that its leaders also secretly support Hezbollah in Lebanon. Fine went so far as to say "CAIR is to Muslims as the Ku Klux Klan is to Christians." During the 2006 election Independence Party candidate Tammy Lee also accused CAIR of having secret ties to Hamas.cite news |url=|title=Islamic TV ad decries terrorism
last=Diaz|first=Kevin|work = Star Tribune|date= 2006-10-24|accessdate=2006-11-04|quote = Alarmed by the furor surrounding Muslim Fifth Congressional District candidate Keith Ellison, a national Islamic group is targeting Minnesota with an "anti-terror TV ad" blitz disavowing ties between Islam and terrorism.
] CAIR director Nihad Awad has known Ellison since they both attended the University of Minnesota, “Ellison has called founder Nihad Awad an acquaintance”.cite news| title=Minnesotan campaigns to be the first Muslim elected to Congress| author=Rochelle Olson| publisher=McClatchy Newspapers| date=Tue, October 24, 2006 |url= Retrieved on Jan. 3, 2007]

In response to Ellison's opponents, CAIR leaders Parvez Ahmed and Nihad Awad wrote "We are proud of our personal donations to Ellison's campaign" and derided any 'guilt by association' arguments.cite news |url=
title=Parvez Ahmed and Nihad Awad: Reject the political Muslim-bashing smears|work = Star Tribune|date= 2006-10-20|accessdate=2006-11-04|quote = There has been much sound and fury in certain circles about the American Muslim community's support for Keith Ellison and his campaign to represent Minnesota's Fifth Congressional District.
] During this time the "Not in the Name of Islam" paid advertisement began appearing on Minnesota television channels for the first time, with Communications Director of CAIR-Florida Ahmed Bedier coordinating the ad campaign.

During October 2006, Ellison traveled to Florida on a fundraising tour that "included a party hosted by Altaf Ali, CAIR's state director there".cite news |last = Kahn|first = Aron|title = Controversy gnaws at Ellison lead|work = Pioneer Press|publisher = MediaNews Group|date= 2006-10-09|url=] The party had a suggested donation of $100.cite news
title=Islamic organization to host Florida fundraiser for Ellison
work = Star Tribune
date= 2006-10-12
quote = Altaf Ali, CAIR's executive director in Florida, and Saif Ishoof are listed as the hosts for an event with a suggested donation of $100. It is scheduled for Saturday and will be at the Southwest Focal Point Senior Center in Pembroke Pines, Fla.
] Since winning the 2006 election, Ellison and CAIR have continued their association.(see above)

Campaign finance violations

Campaign finance has also been an issue for Ellison. In early 2006, the [ Minnesota State Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board] reprimanded Ellison for unreported contributions, discrepancies in cash balances, and misclassified disbursements. These transgressions occurred in the years 2002–2004. In 2005 when the board tried to get more information about the problems in Ellison's reports, they got no response from Ellison or his treasurer (his wife Kim). When the board heard nothing, they opened the investigation. Ellison was subpoenaed and fined. [ [ Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board Findings of Fact] ] [ [ Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board Conciliation Agreement] ] The board has also fined Ellison numerous times for late filings] [ [ Compilation of Board Minutes in which Ellison was fined] ] been sued twice by the attorney general, and has been warned many times for absent or incomplete disclosure. [cite news|first = Patricia|last = Lopez|coauthors = Mike Kaszuba|title = Late campaign reports were her doing, Ellison's wife says|work = Star Tribune|date= 2006-07-15|accessdate = 2006-09-11] [cite news |first = Dane |last = Smith|coauthors = Pat Doyle|title = Late filings a pattern for Ellison|work = Star Tribune|page = 18|date= 2006-07-08|accessdate = 2006-09-11]

Nonpayment of fines and taxes

Ellison's license to drive an automobile has been suspended multiple times for failure to pay tickets and fines. When asked in 2006 how many times his license has been suspended, he said, "I don't know how many prior suspensions I've had; I don't keep count."

Ellison also 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. He later paid in excess of $18,000. [ [ KSTP Report August 16th, 2006 (Microsoft ActiveX)] ]

CNN interview with Glenn Beck

On November 14, 2006, Glenn Beck of CNN Headline Newscite news| url=| author=Glenn Beck| title=First Muslim Congressman Speaks Out|date=November 14, 2006 Retrieved on Dec. 11, 2006] asked Ellison to, "prove to me that you are not working with our enemies," saying, "And I know you're not. I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way." Ellison replied that his constituents, "know that I have a deep love and affection for my country. There's no one who's more patriotic than I am, and so you know, I don't need to — need to prove my patriotic stripes."

When asked by Beck about his opinion on “Muslim extremists” Ellison replied, “They're criminals. But I think that people who commit criminal acts should be treated like criminals, regardless of their faith.” Ellison has also said, "Osama bin Laden no more represents Islam than Timothy McVeigh represented Christianity." [cite web | title =Keith Ellison first Muslim congressman | author =Associated Press |date=November 11, 2006 | publisher =Spokesman Review | url= on Nov. 16, 2006] (McVeigh had links to the Christian Identity commune in Elohim City, Oklahoma. [cite news|title=Famous Trials: The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Trial of Timothy McVeigh: A Chronology| publisher=University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law| url= Retrieved on Dec. 26, 2006] )

Asked about the incident later, Ellison dismissed it, "It's just shock TV. Some pundits think they have to ask the most outrageous questions." [cite news | first=Brady | last=Averill | coauthors= | title=For freshmen on Capitol Hill, it's the luck of the draw |date=November 17, 2006 | publisher = Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune | url= | accessdate = 2006-11-19 | language = ] On January 2, 2007, Beck said on his radio program that Ellison did not take offense at the comments and the two had a friendly chat off the air. On January 9, 2007, at the Television Critics Association's semiannual press tour, Beck spoke with contrition about asking Ellison to “prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.” He said it was "Quite possibly the poorest-worded question of all time. That might come from my lack of intelligence." [cite news| title=King holds court at TV critics convention| author=David Kronke|date=01/09/2007| url=| publisher= Los Angeles Newspaper Group Retrieved on Dec. 9, 2007]

Quran Oath Controversy of the 110th United States Congress

Because Ellison stated an intent to use the Quran instead of a Bible at his photo-op reenactment of the swearing in ceremony (the official ceremony is done "en masse" without any books), Conservative columnist Dennis Prager wrote a column criticizing him.cite web| title=America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on| author =Dennis Prager|date=November 28, 2006| url=,_not_keith_ellison,_decides_what_book_a_congressman_takes_his_oath_onRetrieved on Dec. 4, 2006] This drew responses from organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), The American Family Association, and The Anti-Defamation League.

Fifth-term Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA), responding to "scores and hundreds of emails" [Audio link: cite news| author=Allison Keyes|title=“Rep. Goode Launches Debate over Muslims in Office” Weekend Edition Sunday| date= December 24, 2006|publisher=National Public Radio| url=] from his constituents after the Prager articles, has also stated his view that Ellison's decision to use the Quran is a threat to "the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America".cite news| title=Anti-Muslim letter goes out to hundreds — not all are amused| author=Erika Howsare|date=2006-12-19| url= Retrieved Dec. 20, 2006] He also wrote, "...if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Quran."

CNN reported that on the January 4, 2007 (the opening day of Congress), Ellison met Goode on the House floor to shake hands and Goode accepted an offer to talk over coffee. [cite news|title=Muslim congressman shakes critic's hand|date=January 4, 2007| url=| publisher=CNN Retrieved on Jan. 8, 2007]

That same day during his oath reenactment Ellison used a two volume Quran published in London in 1764 that was once owned by Thomas Jefferson [cite web
title=Ellison Uses Thomas Jefferson's Quran|date=2007-01-04|accessdate=2007-01-06|last=Frommer
first=Frederic J.|publiser=AP
] and loaned to Ellison by "the rare book and special collections division at the Library of Congress". [cite news|title=But It's Thomas Jefferson's Quran!|authors=Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts|date=January 3, 2007|page=C03|url=|publisher=The Washington Post Retrieved on Jan. 3, 2007] According to Ellison, "It demonstrates that from the very beginning of our country, we had people who were visionary, who were religiously tolerant, who believed that knowledge and wisdom could be gleaned from any number of sources, including the Quran." [cite news|title=Congressman to Be Sworn in Using Quran|authors=FREDERIC J. FROMMER|date=January 3, 2007|url=|publisher=AP via ABC News] Historian Kevin J. Hayes in his book "How Thomas Jefferson Read the Qur’an" explains that Jefferson purchased the book in 1765 while studying for the bar exam to become a lawyer (when he began questioning British Common Law after the Stamp Act Crisis). [cite book|author=Hayes, Kevin J. |title="How Thomas Jefferson Read the Qur'an"|publisher=Early American Literature — Volume 39, Number 2, 2004, pp. 247–261 The University of North Carolina Press an abstract can be read at [ this link] ]

Comments: Reichstag fire and 9/11

On July 8, 2007 Ellison discussed the power of the executive branch in the US currently in a speech before the organization "Atheists for Human Rights". He stated that Cheney asserts it is "beneath his dignity in order for him to answer any questions from the citizens of the United States. That is the very definition of totalitarianism, authoritarianism and dictatorship." [ Bush like Hitler, says first Muslim in Congress] , ] He went on to say, "It's almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that. After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it and it put the leader of that country [Hitler] in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted. The fact is that I'm not saying [Sept. 11] was a [U.S.] plan, or anything like that because, you know, that's how they put you in the nut-ball box -- dismiss you."

Fox News picked up the story [cite web|title=Wait Until You Hear Who’s Comparing the Bush Administration to Nazi Germany|date=July 12, 2007|url=,2933,289157,00.html|author=Brit Hume] and their commentator John Gibson categorized Ellison's comments as accusing "Bush of planning and executing the 9/11 attacks". [cite web|url=,2933,289529,00.html|date=July 16, 2007|author=John Gibson|title=What I Think About Rep. Keith Ellison Comparing Bush to Hitler] In the Congress Reps. Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Zach Wamp (R-TN) wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanding she "swiftly and immediately" reprimand Ellison for his remarks.cite news|title=Ellison's remarks draw fresh complaints|publisher=StarTribune|url=|date=July 17, 2007|author=Jake Sherman] The letter said "Even if Ellison asserts that he was not implying that 9/11 was orchestrated by the administration, the comparison he draws between Hitler and the president of United States is disgraceful. These comments inflame hatred and division at a time when we should be promoting our unity and reconciliation." [cite news|title=Reps. Cantor, Wamp blast Ellison for 9/11 comments|author=Jackie Kucinich|date=July 18, 2007|url=|publisher=The Hill] The Anti-Defamation League also stated "Whatever his views may be on the administration's response to 9/11 and the conduct of the war on terrorism, likening it to Hitler's rise to power and Nazism is odious and demeans the victims of 9/11 and the brave American men and women engaged in the war on terror. Furthermore, it demonstrates a profound lack of understanding about the horrors that Hitler and his Nazi regime perpetrated."

When later questioned about his comments, Ellison told a reporter that Osama bin Laden, and not the Bush administration, was responsible for the attacks. [Cite news| last = Kersten| first = Katherine| title = Ellison's use of Reichstag fire goes overboard| work = Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)| date = 2007-07-12] Ellison also said, "In the aftermath of a tragedy, space is opened up for governments to take action that they could not have achieved before that." He pointed to the Iraq War and provisions granting greater arrest and surveillance powers within the USA PATRIOT Act as examples. [cite web|title=Ellison cites Reichstag burning in attacking Bush policies|date=2007-07-13|url=] Ellison also "In response to a question, I stated that the Bush Administration exploited post-9/11 fears to advance a policy agenda that has undermined our civil liberties. I stand by this statement. ...I want to be clear that the murderous Nazi regime is historically distinct and the horror of the Holocaust must be acknowledged as a unique event in human history. I did not intend any direct comparison between the totalitarian state of Nazi Germany and the current administration. I have taken consistent and strong stands against Holocaust denial throughout my life in public service."

ali remarks

Rep. Bill Sali (R-ID) drew criticism for his comments in an August 8, 2007 interview with the conservative Christian-based "American Family News Network". Sali, an outspoken Evangelical Christian, denounced the Senate leadership for allowing a Hindu to lead the opening prayer. He held that invoking a non-Christian god in the Senate threatened to endanger America by removing "the protective hand of God."cite news|title=Idaho congressman disturbed by Hindu prayer in Senate, election of Muslim to House|url=|author=Jim Brown||date=August 8, 2007] He then went on to say "We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers. The principles that this country was built on, that have made it great over these centuries, were Christian principles derived from Scripture. You know the Lord can make the rain fall on the just and the unjust alike." Former Idaho Democratic congressman Richard Stallings, among others, demanded that Sali either apologize or resign. In response Sali sent Ellison an e-mail saying he "meant no offense."cite news|title=Lawmaker Apologizes for Muslim Remarks|date=August 18, 2007|author=Todd Dvorak|publisher=Associated Press|url=] At the time Ellison was in Iraq with a congressional delegation, his spokesperson said "The congressman just doesn't respond to comments like that."cite news|title=Sali clarifies his stance on Muslim congressman|author=Gregory Hahn|publisher=Idaho Statesman|date=08/10/07|url=] Sali stressed to reporters that he was not calling for Ellison to be removed, "He got elected the same way I did. People certainly have the right to elect anyone they want." Sali defended his claim about America's founding principles saying "The idea that somehow we can move to multi-culturalism and still remain the same — I think that's a little dangerous, too. From my standpoint, I believe the Founding Fathers were overwhelmingly Christian and the God they were talking about is the God of the Bible." When asked about his policy discussions with those of other faiths he stated, "I would say, 'These are principles that I think are important,' and if he agrees with those, great. At the end of the game, maybe it does get down to religious beliefs and how they impact how you make public policy." It has been noted in a New York Sun editorial that claims dogging Ellison that the founders of the US did not anticipate Muslim legislators are factually incorrect.cite web|url=|title=Binding Ellison|publisher=New York Sun Editorial|date=December 6, 2006] The specific subject was brought up in many of the State conventions to ratify the Constitution, including remarks by William Lancaster in the North Carolina Ratifying Convention in 1788. [cite web|title=Debate in North Carolina Ratifying Convention; 30 July 1788|url=]

New York "Daily News" & SITE Institute

After the 2006 election, the New York "Daily News" published an article describing comments participants in Jihadist chat rooms made about Ellison and his election victory. The "News" based their article on a report from the SITE Institute, a non-profit organization that monitors chat rooms frequented by terrorist supporters and sympathizers.cite web|url=| publisher= The Search For International Terrorist Entities Institute|title=SITE Institute Retrieved on Dec. 18, 2006] [cite web| url= | title=mission|publisher = The Search For International Terrorist Entities Institute Retrieved on Dec. 18, 2006] According to the "Daily News", messages were found in two jihadi chat rooms, including Al-Hesbah, which is "solidly tied to Al Qaeda Central, Bin Laden's network," and where many "Al Qaeda communiques" were first released. Participants in chat rooms called Ellison, "the first Jewish Muslim that goes to Congress", a "fool" trying to "deceive us," and "one of them, [a] one-way ticket to Hell." Another characterized the election as "a comedy". One said, "My God, if you have 1 billion Muslims like him, we shall [continue to] fight you as the Muslim fights the infidel." Ellison’s campaign spokeswoman Bridget Cusick was not surprised by the negative comments in militant chat rooms, "Why would Al Qaeda embrace Keith's success? He's the opposite of what they're about."cite news| title=Jihadists trash Muslim U.S. rep | author= James Gordon Meek|date=November 12, 2006 | url= |publisher=New York Daily News Retrieved on Dec. 9, 2006]

Trailblazer Award

Ellison was chosen by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee for its Trailblazer Award. The group said Ellison “has established a career of advocacy focused on promoting civil and human rights, peace, and prosperity for working families.” [cite news| title=Arab-American group to award Rep. Keith Ellison|date=May 17, 2007|author=Niraj Warikoo|url=]

Electoral history

*2006 Race for U.S. House of Representatives — Minnesota 5th District [cite web| url= | title=Election results: Minnesota: U.S. House District 5 | publisher= Minnesota Public Radio Retrieved on Dec. 21, 2006] ::

*2002 Race for Minnesota House of Representatives — District 58B [cite web | url=|title= 2002 General Election Results – Minnesota Secretary of State|date= 2003-05-23 Retrieved on Dec. 14, 2006] ::


* [ Minister Farrakhan never claimed to be a 'Malcolm X'] — Minnesota Daily opinion by Ellison
* [ Affirmative action does not make up for past injustice] — Minnesota Daily opinion by Ellison
* [ Keith Ellison may become Congress's first Muslim] — The HILL.
* [ Keith Ellison dogged by his past] — Minnesota Public Radio profile
* [ Let's not forget Ellison's support of Nation of Islam] — conservative opinion by a Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist.
* [ Ellison responds to parking ticket concerns] — KSTP news.
* [ Late filings a pattern for Ellison] — Minneapolis Star Tribune.

External links

* [ Congressman Keith Ellison] official U.S. House website
* [ Re-Elect Keith Ellison for U.S. Congress] official campaign website
* [ Profile] at SourceWatch Congresspedia
* [ MPR — Campaign 2006: Keith Ellison] profile from "Minnesota Public Radio"
* [ NNDB — Keith Ellison] profile


* [ Profile: Keith Ellison (Star Tribune)]
* [ Ellison wins Dem. primary (MN Daily)]
* [ St. Paul Pioneer Press Article on 5th District Congressional Race]
* [ Washington Times Op-ed piece]
* [ "Louis Farrakhan's First Congressman"] article in "The Weekly Standard"
* [ Islamic Biography of Keith Ellison]
* [ "The Lessons of Keith Ellison"] , [ alt.muslim] editorial
* [ Katherine Kersten: Ellison's positions on crime clear]
* [ CD 5 Candidate Forum, October 17 (Minnesota Public Radio)]
* [ CD 5 Candidate Forum, October 10 (Minnesota Public Radio)]
* [ CD 5 Candidate Forum, September 21 (Minnesota Public Radio)]

NAME = Ellison, Keith
ALTERNATIVE NAMES = Ellison, Keith Maurice
SHORT DESCRIPTION = American politician and lawyer
DATE OF BIRTH = August 4, 1963
PLACE OF BIRTH = Detroit, Michigan, United States

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