- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 20, 2018

She accused a national political figure of domestic abuse, but nobody has asked Karen Monahan to present an award, or celebrated her as a #MeToo icon, or put her on the short list for Person of the Year.

Instead, Ms. Monahan has watched her fellow progressives — some of whom were once her colleagues — turn on her after she went public in August with abuse allegations against her ex-boyfriend, Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota’s newly elected attorney general.

“There is definitely hypocrisy. There’s no doubt,” Ms. Monahan told The Washington Times.

The contrast between her experience and that of Christine Blasey Ford, who has emerged as a feminist folk heroine and media favorite after accusing now-Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual assault in September, could hardly be more striking.

“The same people that are celebrating her are the people that have cyberbullied me, lied, victim shamed, blamed me,” Ms. Monahan said. “Some of the cruelest messages — it’s just been unreal — are from people I’ve stood side-by-side with in elections and marches, people that I’ve worked on their campaigns, under this banner of justice and human rights.”

One example: The Women’s March, which was second to none in defending Ms. Ford, was mum on Ms. Monahan. Not only that, co-chair Linda Sarsour “liked” a Facebook post from an activist who accused Ms. Monahan of waging a “quest for vengeance.”

While the details differ, the Ellison and Kavanaugh situations share enough similarities to bolster those charging that for all the Democratic talk of believing the women, there still exists a #MeToo double-standard depending on whether the accused is a liberal or conservative.

Both Mr. Ellison and Mr. Kavanaugh have flatly denied the allegations, which played out simultaneously over the fall. Neither of the accusations was definitively proved or disproved. Ultimately, Mr. Ellison was elected and Mr. Kavanaugh was confirmed.

So why has Ms. Ford become a feminist folk heroine and Ms. Monahan a pariah? Juanita Broaddrick has a few thoughts on that score.

“[O]ur allegations are against Democrats,” said Ms. Broaddrick, who accused President Bill Clinton of raping her during his 1978 Arkansas gubernatorial campaign, which he has denied.

“Why am I just asked by conservative groups to do speaking events and book signings?” she asked. “Democrat-leaning groups are now reckoning with the fact I was telling the truth in ‘99, but they prefer I just go away rather than being educated on my allegations.”

#MeToo movement: a political ‘tool’

Both Ms. Ford, a college professor, and Ms. Monahan, a Sierra Club community organizer, have seen their lives turned upside down since making the accusations, but that’s where the parallels end.

At the behest of Sports Illustrated, Ms. Ford presented via video the Inspiration of the Year award to Rachael Denhollander, the first gymnast to go public with sexual-abuse charges against ex-USA Gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar, now serving time in prison.

TIME named Ms. Ford as a runner-up for its 2018 Person of the Year, calling her a “symbol for survivors of sexual assault,” while the fashion magazine Flare honored her in its holiday special “celebrating the women who showed up, raised their voices and fought for change.”

That description could also apply to the 44-year-old Monahan. She accused Mr. Ellison of dragging her from a bed screaming obscenities, backing up her account by posting 2017 medical records showing that she told a clinic about his “emotional and physical abuse.”

Given Mr. Ellison’s high profile as Democratic National Committee deputy chair, the explosive allegations soon dominated the campaign for attorney general. GOP candidate Doug Wardlow hammered Mr. Ellison on the issue, while top Democrats refused to condemn him.

“The #MeToo movement, it’s a tool. By both parties,” said Ms. Monahan. “It just depends on who’s going to benefit.”

A state Democratic Party investigation found her allegations “unsubstantiated.” Sen. Tina Smith, Minnesota Democrat, voiced support for Mr. Ellison. Other progressives said Ms. Monahan hurt her credibility by hiring a GOP-affiliated attorney, Andrew Parker, and appearing on Fox’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

Also at issue is the video that allegedly shows the bed-dragging incident. Ms. Monahan confirmed that she has such a video but has refused to release it, saying it would be humiliating. Mr. Ellison said the recording does not exist because the episode never happened.

“From where I sit, her recent decisions present cause for concern,” said Minneapolis poet Michael Kleber-Diggs in an Oct. 25 op-ed. “She seems biased in a way that makes it difficult to continue to take her accusation at face value.”

Black Lives Matter leader Lena K. Gardner blasted Ms. Monahan on Facebook, telling her that the “path you have chosen is putting thousands, if not millions of people in our state at risk — people you claimed to care about and there is no getting around that.”

Ms. Monahan has long denied that her goal was to defeat Mr. Ellison, insisting “this isn’t about politics to me, it’s about my life.” She said she declined to cast a vote in the race.

She came forward after being questioned about her son’s Facebook post on the alleged abuse, which she said she found out about after the fact. If Mr. Ellison had lost, she had planned to leave Minnesota over safety concerns.

“The day of the election, I was getting some really nasty messages and some threats if he were to lose,” Ms. Monahan said. “If he had lost the election, I would have for sure left town. But I didn’t know what it was going to look like if he won.”

Since his Nov. 6 victory, she said, the “whirlwind” has died down, but she still struggles to get her life back on track. The Sierra Club continues to support her, although running afoul of state progressives has made it difficult to do her job.

“Right now I’m dealing with some health stuff over all this,” Ms. Monahan said. “Every aspect of my life and my family’s life has changed. I’ve lost contracts that I’ve had since the beginning of the year. My full-time job at the Sierra Club — I can’t even work because many of the people I work with in the community are the same people that re-victimized and shamed and lied and blamed me.”

Ms. Monahan said she may release the video someday — “if I do, it will be in my time when I feel right” — but that even if she did, it wouldn’t change people’s minds.

“Rodney King had a video. Philando Castile had a video,” she said. “The amount of evidence that I have brought forward — if they cannot see, they don’t want to see.”

Despite the fallout, Ms. Monahan said she would do it again. She pointed to the hundreds if not thousands of survivors who have reached out to her to share their stories. She’s also working on projects on narcissist abuse.

The tears don’t come until the end of the interview, when she says that “for the first time, I showed up for me in my life.”

“And I showed up in a big way, and I valued my own humanity,” Ms. Monahan said. “And I didn’t need anybody else’s permission, and I didn’t need anyone else’s validation, to honor my experience and to speak about it. And a whole bunch of shame has left me.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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