Who is Keith Ellison? (17)

This morning I noted the lame Star Tribune story by Dane Smith on Keith Ellison’s vehicular infractions. Smith seemed not to realize that the story was the number of infractions combined with nonpayment of fines and the suspension or revocation of his driver’s license to an extent Ellison himself could not recall. Minnesota Democrats Exposed remains on top of the story, updating it tonight to note 38 parking violations and 17 moving violations for a total of 55 tickets. All in all, it is a picture of an attorney who does not have much respect for the law.

Also lying in plain view is Ellison’s analogous treatment of the Minnesota campaign finance laws to which Ellison has been subject as a candidate for office in the state legislature. Although these laws are easily susceptible to technical violation, most candidates for state office respond to inquiries from the Campaign Finance Board and pay the fines imposed by the Board as required for infractions found.

Ellison, however, has had serious trouble both with basic compliance with Board inquiries and with payment of fines imposed by the Board. In the fall of 2005, for example, he ignored five letters from the Board asking him to provide additional information on previously filed finace reports; he provided the information long after it was due only when the Board subpoenaed it. In February 2006, the Board accordingly imposed $2,600 in fines payable within 30 days for violation of reporting requirements after multiple notices had been sent to him. The Board’s February 2006 Findings and Order in the Matter of the Committee to Elect Keith Ellison is available online.

As of the date Ellison received the Democratic endorsement for Minnesota’s Fifth District congressional seat, Ellison had paid only $50 of the $2,600 fine that the Board had imposed on him, and that payment was late at the time he made it. He had yet to pay $2,550 of the $2,600 in fines that were due this past March at the time Ellison was endorsed at the Fifth District Democratic convetion in May. Ellison paid the $2,550 balance a week after the convention, following the Board’s unanimous rejection of his request for a $100 a month payment plan. The Board’s May 16 minutes — also available online — show the Board unanimously rejecting Ellison’s request to arrange a $100 per month payment plan on the $2,550 balance. (The Star Tribune article garbles the facts on the Board’s 2006 fines.) And Ellison’s 2006 encounter with the Board was neither his first, nor even perhaps his most serious.

Nevertheless, among the blights on Ellison’s public record, I rate more serious the matters I have reported here previously concerning Ellison’s local leadership of the Nation of Islam and his dissembling about it, his defense of the “truth” of an attack on Minneapolis Jews as “the most racist white people,” his affiliation with convicted murderer and Vice Lords gang leader Sharif Willis, his support of the Vice Lords gangbangers charged (and subsequently convicted) with the murder of Minneapolis police officer Jerry Haaf, his outrageous attacks on law enforcement authorities, his demand that Symbionese Liberation Army terrorist Sara Jane Olson be freed, his concern for the continuing freedom of convicted cop-killer Assata Shakur on the lam in Havana — none of which has yet seen the light of day in the local media.

Tomorrow’s Star Tribune explores the pattern underlying Ellison’s treatment of the campaign finance laws in a story by Dane Smith and Pat Doyle to which columnist Katherine Kersten is acknowledged to have contributed. At the top of the story is Ellison’s assurance that “he’s finally settled the complaints and that the infractions are about bookkeeping and timing and are not serious ethical violations.” A little deeper into the story is Professor David Schultz’s evaluation. Schultz “said he knows of no other elected official in Minnesota with a record comparable to Ellison’s.”

As with the traffic tickets story this morning, Smith and Doyle seem incapable of getting Ellison to say something about his willful refusal to abide by Board orders or to pay the Board fines in a lawful manner. Surely Fifth District voters are entitled to a fair account of these matters prior to the November general election if not the September primary.

JOHN adds: The Ellison campaign is a train wreck for the Democratic Party. If Ellison wins the primary–and, as the endorsed candidate, he certainly has the advantage, especially given the reluctance of local media to inform voters about his record–it seems entirely possible that the Republicans could capture one of America’s safest Democratic seats. Which would be another nail in the coffin of the Dems’ hopes to re-take the House. The Republican nominee is Alan Fine, a very respectable candidate. Go here to contribute to his campaign, if you’d rather not have an advocate for cop-killers sitting in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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