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Keith Ellison has been a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the Fifth Congressional District of Minnesota, since 2007 (map). He is the first Muslim to serve in the U.S. Congress.
Record and controversies
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Association with the Nation of Islam
In 1990, Ellison wrote an article for a University of Minnesota newspaper (he was then a law student there) defending Louis Farrakhan against accusations of Antisemitism. He later retreated completely from this defense, stating that he was in err, and that he should have examined more closely the accusations leveled against the Nation of Islam founder at that time. 
Ellison's adversaries found further fodder for linking him to the Nation of Islam when it was revealed that he worked with the group for 18 months to organize the Minnesota contingent of the Million Man March. Ellison stated that while he collaborated closely with the group on the project, he was never a member of it. 
Improper disclosure of campaign funds
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. The board has also fined Ellison numerous times for late filings. 
Elects to take congressional oath on the Koran
After his election to Congress, Ellison opted to take his oath of office on the Koran. This announcement prompted criticism from Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Vir.), who called Ellison's intention to use the Koran a threat to American values.
- Main article: Virgil Goode#Opposition to Muslim immigrants
On January 2, 2007, Ellison announced that he would swear-in on a copy of the Koran once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Specifically, he said that he would take the official oath of office along with the other incoming members in the House chamber, then use the Koran in his individual, ceremonial oath with new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). His spokesperson, Rick Jauert stated, "Keith is paying respect not only to the founding fathers' belief in religious freedom but the Constitution itself.” 
AIPAC-funded trip to Israel
The American Israel Education Foundation, an organization affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), funds trips to Israel for freshman members of Congress. In July 2007, Ellison went on his second trip to Israel courtesy of AIEF. About this trip he stated:
- "Whenever you're talking about dialogue with Hamas, it's something that's extremely controversial...I'm not trying to step into some controversy, but I am trying to be a voice for dialogue. I'm trying to go there to be a helpful figure, not a person who's going to stir up controversies."
Born in Detroit in 1963, Ellison was one of five children in a Roman Catholic family. He converted to Islam at 19 while attending Wayne State University. In 1987, he moved to Minnesota to attend University of Minnesota Law School, where he earned his Juris Doctor in 1990. He then practiced law privately in Minneapolis. In 2002, he was elected to the Minnesota State Legislature. He and his wife Kim have four children. 
Money in politics
This section contains links to – and feeds from – money in politics databases. <crpcontribdata>cid=N00028257&cycle=2006</crpcontribdata>
|Links to more campaign contribution information for Keith Ellison
from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org site.
|Fundraising profile:||2006 election cycle||Career totals|
|Top contributors by organization/corporation:||2006 election cycle||Career totals|
|Top contributors by industry:||2006 election cycle||Career totals|
- Revolving door profile for Keith Ellison from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org website.
- 2006 privately funded travel profile for Keith Ellison from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org website.
- Personal finance profile for Keith Ellison from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org website.
Committees and Affiliations
- House Committee on Financial Services
- Subcommitee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology
- Subcommitee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit
- Subcommitee on Housing and Community Opportunity
- House Committee on the Judiciary
- Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
- Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
More Background Data
2100 Plymouth Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55411
Phone: (612) 522-1212
Fax: (612) 522-9915
Articles and Resources
- ↑ AP, "Only Muslim in US Congress to return to Israel in group meeting with Palestinian Abbas," IHT, August 1, 2007.
- Keith Ellison for U.S. Congress, official campaign site.
Local blogs and discussion sites
- Alan Cooperman, "Muslim Candidate Plays Defense," Washington Post, September 11, 2006.
- John Aravosis, "And we wonder why they hate us," AMERICAblog, December 1, 2006.
- Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts, "But It's Thomas Jefferson's Koran!," Washington Post, January 3, 2007.
|Current Office: U.S. House of Representatives|
Ranking Member On:
Ranking Member On:
|Committees: House Committee on Financial Services, House Committee on Financial Services/Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, House Committee on Financial Services/Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, House Committee on Financial Services/Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy Trade and Technology, House Committee on the Judiciary, House Committee on the Judiciary/Subcommittee on the Constitution Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, House Committee on the Judiciary/Subcommittee on Immigration Citizenship Refugees Border Security and International Law|
|First Elected to Current Office:
November 7, 2006
|First Took Current Office:
January 4, 2007
November 2, 2010
|Previous Political Work?
Minnesota House of Representatives
|Other Party Membership:|
|Zip Code Affiliations:|
Date of Birth: August 4, 1963