In his 2017 bid to become the next Democratic National Committee chairman, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison claimed that he had “disavowed” the Nation of Islam and its leader Louis Farrakhan long ago, but newly revealed information is proving otherwise.
Ellison, who serves as the deputy chair of the DNC, enjoyed dinner with Farrakhan in September 2013.
Farrakhan and Ellison were not the only ones present for the occasion. They were joined by Democrat congressmen Gregory Meeks of New York and Andre Carson of Indiana, according to a Wall Street Journal report that broke the story.
The event was orchestrated and attended by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
The newly elected leader of Iran at the time, Rouhani had traveled to New York to give a speech to the United Nations. After addressing the U.N. General Assembly, Rouhani invited Muslim leaders in the U.S. to dinner.
Elected in 2006, Ellison holds the distinction of being the first Muslim member of Congress. Carson, who entered Congress following a 2008 special election, followed soon after.
Final Call, a publication for the Nation of Islam, reported on the 2013 dinner. However, the event received virtually no other media coverage, leaving the general public unaware.
The revelations call into question why several Democrat members of Congress would dine with the president of what the U.S. government describes as the leading state sponsor of terror. The U.S. has listed Iran as a state sponsor of terror since the Reagan administration.
Additionally, the 2013 meeting of Reps. Ellison, Carson and Meeks is the latest example of the Congressional Black Caucus’ relationship with Farrakhan, a man long accused of rampant anti-Semitism.
Ellison, who has been accused of making anti-Semitic statements in the past, has attempted to dissociate himself from Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, despite past ties.
During his first run for Congress in 2006, Ellison admitted that, not only did he attend Farrakhan’s Million Man March in 1995, but that he also worked for the Nation of Islam for 18 months prior.
His congressional campaign in peril over his past association with a group that espouses hateful rhetoric against the Jewish community, Ellison wrote in a statement: “I reject and condemn the anti-Semitic statements and actions of the Nation of Islam (and) Louis Farrakhan.”
Questions over Ellison’s link to the Nation of Islam came up again when he ran for DNC chair in 2017. He accused his critics of running a “smear campaign” for “talking about something that happened in 1995.”
In a public rebuke to Farrakhan, Ellison accused his group of fomenting “hatred and division, including, anti-Semitism, homophobia and a chauvinistic model of manhood. I disavowed them long ago, condemned their views, and apologized.”
The Minnesota congressman went on to lose the DNC chairmanship to Tom Perez. However, he was given the title of deputy chairman, a powerful and prestigious position in the Democratic Party.
During the election for DNC chair, Ellison again vowed that he had dissociated from Farrakhan long ago. But according to the Muslim leader himself, the 2013 meeting was not even the last time the two men had spoken to one another.
In an interview last year, Farrakhan claimed that Ellison and Carson had visited him in Washington, D.C., the previous summer.
Aside from his past association with an anti-Semitic group, Ellison has been accused of anti-Semitic remarks himself.
According to a woman who went to law school with the now-congressman, Ellison “approached her and said he could not respect her, because she was a Jew and because she was a woman who should not be at a law school.”
He has denied the accusation.
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