Keith Ellison (Minnesota)

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Keith Ellison
Keith Ellison.jpg
U.S. House, Minnesota, District 5
In office
January 3, 2007-Present
Term ends
January 3, 2015
Years in position 8
PredecessorMartin Olav Sabo (D)
Base salary$174,000/year
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
First electedNovember 7, 2006
Next generalNovember 4, 2014
Campaign $$5,776,484
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Minnesota House of Representatives
Bachelor'sWayne State University
J.D.University of Minnesota
Date of birthAugust 4, 1963
Place of birthDetroit, Michigan
Net worth$6,003.50
Office website
Campaign website
Keith Maurice Ellison (b. August 4, 1963, in Detroit, Michigan) is a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives representing Minnesota's 5th Congressional District. Ellison was first elected to the House in 2006. He won re-election in 2012.[1] He ran for re-election in 2014.

Ellison serves as one of the Chief Deputy Whips of the Democratic caucus for the 113th Congress.[2]

Based on analysis of multiple outside rankings, Ellison is one of the most reliable Democratic votes, meaning he can be considered a safe vote for the Democratic Party in Congress.


Ellison was born in 1963 in Detroit, Michigan. He earned his B.A. from Wayne State University in 1986 and his J.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1990. Prior to his political career, Ellison worked as an attorney.[3]

In January 2012, Ellison was named a "Top-20 US Progressive" according to The New Statesman, a magazine based in the United Kingdom. Other members of the list include Paul Krugman, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky and Rachel Maddow.[4]


Below is an abbreviated outline of Ellison's political career:[3]

Committee assignments

U.S. House


Ellison serves on the following committees:[5]

  • Financial Services Committee
    • Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit
    • Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises
    • Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations


Ellison served on the following House committees:[6]

  • Financial Services Committee
    • Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises
    • Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations


Legislative actions

113th Congress


The second session of the 113th Congress enacted into law 224 out of the 3215 introduced bills (7 percent). Comparatively, the 112th Congress had 4.2 percent of introduced bills enacted into law in the second session.[7] For more information pertaining to Ellison's voting record in the 113th Congress, please see the below sections.[8]

National security

American response in Syria
See also: United States involvement in Syria

On August 29, 2013, more than 50 House Democrats signed a letter written by California Rep. Barbara Lee that called for a congressional resolution on strikes, and cautioned that the dire situation in Syria "should not draw us into an unwise war—especially without adhering to our constitutional requirements."[9][10] The letter also called on the Obama administration to work with the U.N. Security Council “to build international consensus” condemning the alleged use of chemical weapons. Ellison was one of the 50 Democrats in the House to sign the letter.[9][10]


Voted "No" Ellison voted in opposition of HR 1960 - the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. The bill passed the House on June 14, 2013, with a vote of 315 - 108. Both parties were somewhat divided on the vote.[11]

DHS Appropriations

Voted "No" Ellison voted in opposition of HR 2217 - the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2014. The bill passed the House on June 6, 2013, with a vote of 245 - 182 and was largely along party lines.[11]

Keystone Pipeline Amendment

Voted "Yes" Ellison voted in favor of House Amendment 69, which would have amended HR 3 to "require that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, conduct a study of the vulnerabilities of the Keystone XL pipeline to a terrorist attack and certify that necessary protections have been put in place." The amendment failed on May 22, 2013, with a vote of 176 - 239 and was largely along party lines.[11]

CISPA (2013)

Voted "No" Ellison voted in opposition of HR 624 - the CISPA (2013). The bill passed the House on April 18, 2013, with a vote of 288 - 127. The bill would allow federal intelligence agencies to share cybersecurity intelligence and information with private entities and utilities.[12] The bill was largely supported by Republicans, but divided the Democratic Party.[11]


Farm Bill
See also: United States Farm Bill 2013

Voted "No" Ellison voted against the Farm Bill on July 11, 2013. The bill passed in a 216-208 vote.[13] The bill passed included farm policy, but did not include food stamps.[14]

King Amendment

Ellison signed a letter sent to Collin Peterson in August 2013, asking him to keep Steve King's amendment out of the final Farm Bill.[15] The "Protect Interstate Commerce Act" amendment prevents states from applying their own laws on agricultural products to agricultural products from another state.[16]. King introduced the amendment in response to a law in California, requiring a larger size cage for egg-producing chickens. King represents Iowa, which is a large egg producer.

Government shutdown
See also: United States budget debate, 2013

Voted "No" On September 30, 2013, the House passed a final stopgap spending bill before the shutdown went into effect. The bill included a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate and would have also stripped the bill of federal subsidies for congressional members and staff. It passed through the House with a vote of 228-201.[17] At 1 a.m. on October 1, 2013, one hour after the shutdown officially began, the House voted to move forward with going to a conference. In short order, Sen. Harry Reid rejected the call to conference.[18] Ellison voted against the stopgap spending bill that would have delayed the individual mandate.[17]

Voted "Yes" The shutdown finally ended on October 16, 2013, when the House took a vote on HR 2775 after it was approved by the Senate. The bill to reopen the government lifted the $16.7 trillion debt limit and funds the government through January 15, 2014. Federal employees also received retroactive pay for the shutdown period. The only concession made by Senate Democrats was to require income verification for Obamacare subsidies.[19] The House passed the legislation shortly after the Senate, by a vote of 285-144, with all 144 votes against the legislation coming from Republican members. Ellison voted for HR 2775.[20]


Morton Memos Prohibition

Voted "No" Ellison voted against House Amendment 136 - Prohibits the Enforcement of the Immigration Executive Order. The amendment was adopted by the House on June 6, 2013, with a vote of 224 - 201. The purpose of the amendment as stated on the official text is to "prohibit the use of funds to finalize, implement, administer, or enforce the Morton Memos." These memos would have granted administrative amnesty to certain illegal aliens residing in the United States.[21] The vote largely followed party lines.[22]

Arrest during immigration protest
See also: Gang of Eight

On October 8, 2013, eight Democratic members of Congress were arrested while attending a protest calling for comprehensive immigration reform in front of the U.S. Capitol.[23]

The eight included Ellison, John Lewis, Luis Gutierrez, Charlie Rangel, Raul Grijalva, Joe Crowley, Jan Schakowsky and Al Green.[23] The politicians, along with activists who attended an immigration rally on the National Mall, staged a sit-in near the west side of the Capitol.[23] Authorities arrested the lawmakers for crowding and disrupting the streets around the Capitol. Almost 200 people were arrested by police during the protest.[23]


Repealing Obamacare

Voted "No" Ellison has voted against all attempts to repeal or delay the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[24]

Social issues

Fast food strikes

In December 2013, Ellison stated his support for fast food workers strikes across America. He said, "I worked at McDonald's. I cooked. It was one of the toughest jobs I've ever had. These people earn every single penny they get. In fact, they earn way more than they get."[25]

SNAP challenge
See also: United States Farm Bill 2013

In June 2013, more than two dozen House Democrats, including Ellison, took part in a SNAP challenge, feeding themselves for a week on the average benefit level of a SNAP recipient.[26] Participants agreed to eat all meals from a limited food budget comparable to that of a SNAP participant, approximately $1.50 per meal, or $4.50 a day.[27]

Violence Against Women Act

Voted "Yes" Ellison voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act which provides aid to prosecute cases of violent acts against women and men.[28]


Voted "No" Ellison voted against HR 1797 - Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The resolution passed the House on June 18, 2013, with a vote of 228 - 196. The purpose of the bill is to ban abortions that would take place 20 or more weeks after fertilization.[29]

Previous congressional sessions

Fiscal Cliff

Voted "Yes" Ellison voted for the fiscal cliff compromise bill, which made permanent most of the Bush tax cuts originally passed in 2001 and 2003 while also raising tax rates on the highest income levels. He was 1 of 172 Democrats that voted in favor of the bill. The bill was passed in the House by a 257-167 vote on January 1, 2013.[30]

Campaign themes


The policy positions below were highlighted at Ellison's campaign website.

  • Civil and Human Rights

Excerpt: "Keith supports the rights of all individuals to vote free of undue burden or harassment. Furthermore, he is also a tireless advocate for LGBT equality and the rights of workers to collectively bargain."[31]

  • Economy

Excerpt: "He believes that we need a tax system where the rich pay their share. As a member of the House Financial Service Committee, Keith authored legislation to protect borrowers from being penalized by lenders for defaulting or missing payments on other loans—an unfair practice known as Universal Default."[31]

  • Education, Housing, and Healthcare

Excerpt: "Keith believes that we must support children, families, teachers, and communities in the development of high quality educational opportunities. Keith has been a leading voice for safe and affordable housing for low-income Americans and seeks to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens can keep a roof over their heads."[31]

  • Energy and Environment

Excerpt: "Everyone has the right to drink clean water, breathe clean air, and eat food free of harmful toxins. For years, Keith has been actively involved in the environmental justice movement, which brings communities of color and low-income communities into the larger efforts of creating a cleaner world for our children and future generations."[31]

  • Immigration

Excerpt: "Keith supports comprehensive immigration reform such as the STRIVE Act that includes four components: a clear path to citizenship to those who are already in the U.S. working and paying taxes; expedited process for family reunification; workable employment verification system with strict penalties for employers who knowingly hire undocumented immigrants."[31]

  • Peace and Foreign Relations

Excerpt: "Keith firmly believes that peace should be a guiding principle in U.S. policy, both foreign and domestic. He is committed to fostering dialogue, engagement, and non-violent conflict resolution so we leave a safer world for our children and future generations."[31]

  • Veterans

Excerpt: "Every day, America’s men and women in uniform put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms. During his time in Congress, Keith has supported policies that ensure we provide our troops with the support they deserve after returning from duty."[31]



See also: Minnesota's 5th Congressional District elections, 2014

Ellison ran for re-election to the U.S. House in 2014. He is seeking the Democratic nomination in the primary election. The general election took place November 4, 2014.


See also: Minnesota's 5th Congressional District elections, 2012

Ellison won re-election in 2012.[32] He defeated Gary Boisclair and Gregg A. Iverson in the Democratic primary.[33] He defeated Republican challenger Chris Fields in the November general election.

U.S. House, Minnesota District 5 General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngKeith Ellison Incumbent 74.5% 262,102
     Republican Chris Fields 25.2% 88,753
     NA Write-in 0.3% 1,114
Total Votes 351,969
Source: Minnesota Secretary of State, "Official Election Results, 2012 General Election" (dead link)
U.S. House, Minnesota District 5 Democratic Primary, 2012
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngKeith Ellison Incumbent 89.6% 30,609
Gregg Iverson 6.3% 2,143
Gary Boisclair 4.1% 1,397
Total Votes 34,149

Full history

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Ellison is available dating back to 2006. Based on available campaign finance records, Ellison raised a total of $5,776,484 during that time period. This information was last updated on May 16, 2013.[37]

Keith Ellison (Minnesota)'s Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 U.S. House (Minnesota, District 5) Won $2,053,544
2010 U.S. House (Minnesota, District 5) Won $1,397,497
2008 U.S. House (Minnesota, District 5) Won $1,530,396
2006 U.S. House (Minnesota, District 5) Won $795,047
Grand Total Raised $5,776,484


Candidates for Congress were required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2014 elections season. Below are Ellison's reports.[38]


Breakdown of the source of Ellison's campaign funds before the 2012 election.

Ellison won election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012. During that election cycle, Ellison's campaign committee raised a total of $2,053,544 and spent $2,160,554.[44]

Cost per vote

Ellison spent $8.25 per vote received in 2012.


Breakdown of the source of Ellison's campaign funds before the 2010 election.

Ellison won re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010. During that re-election cycle, Ellison's campaign committee raised a total of $1,397,497 and spent $1,295,839.[45]


Like-minded colleagues

The website OpenCongress tracks the voting records of each member to determine with whom he or she votes most and least often. The results include a member from each party.[46]

Ellison most often votes with:

Ellison least often votes with:

Ideology and leadership

See also: GovTrack's Political Spectrum & Legislative Leadership ranking

Based on an analysis of bill sponsorship by GovTrack, Ellison is a "far-left Democrat," as of June 14, 2013.[47]

Lifetime voting record

See also: Lifetime voting records of United States Senators and Representatives

According to the website GovTrack, Ellison missed 340 of 5,229 roll call votes from Jan 2007 to Apr 2013, which is 6.5% of votes during that period. This is worse than the median of 2.2% among the lifetime records of representatives currently serving.[47]

Congressional Staff Salaries

See also: Staff salaries of United States Senators and Representatives

The website Legistorm compiles staff salary information for members of Congress. Ellison paid his congressional staff a total of $1,022,608 in 2011. Overall, Minnesota ranked 26th in average salary for representative staff. The average U.S. House of Representatives congressional staff was paid $954,912.20 in fiscal year 2011.[48]

Net worth

See also: Net Worth of United States Senators and Representatives

Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by, Ellison's net worth as of 2012 was estimated between $-12,993 and $25,000. That averages to $6,003.50, which is lower than the average net worth of Democratic representatives in 2012 of $5,700,168.36. Ellison ranked as the 408th most wealthy representative in 2012.[49]

Keith Ellison Yearly Net Worth
YearAvg. Net Worth% Difference from previous year

National Journal vote ratings

See also: National Journal vote ratings

Each year, National Journal publishes an analysis of how liberally or conservatively each member of Congress voted, as compared to other members, in the previous year. More information about the analysis process can be found on the vote ratings page.


According to the data released in 2013, Ellison was ranked the 47th most liberal representative during 2012.[50]


According to the data released in 2012, Keith Ellison was ranked one of the most liberal representatives during 2011. This ranking is shared with 18 other representatives. It is also the most liberal ranking held by any Minnesota representative.[51]

Voting with party


Keith Ellison voted with the Democratic Party 94% of the time, which ranked 129th among the 201 House Democratic members as of June 2013.[52]


Ellison is the first Muslim to be elected to the United States Congress. He has four children.[53]

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term Keith + Ellison + Minnesota + House

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Keith Ellison News Feed

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See also

External links


  1. Politico, "2012 Election Map"
  2. Office of the Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, "Hoyer Announces Whip Team for the 113th Congress," accessed January 4, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 Biographical Guide to Members of Congress, "Keith Ellison," accessed December 10, 2011
  4. New Statesman, "Who's left? The top 20 US progressives," accessed January 11, 2012
  5., "House Committee Rosters for the 113th Congress"
  6. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "House of Representatives Committee Assignments," accessed December 8, 2011
  7. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, First Session of the 112th Congress," accessed September 5, 2013
  8. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, Second Session of the 113th Congress," accessed March 4, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 Office of Barbara Lee, "Lee Letter to President Obama," accessed September 2, 2013
  10. 10.0 10.1 Washington Post, "More than 50 House Democrats also want Syria strike resolution," accessed September 2, 2013
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Project Vote Smart, "Representative Keith Ellison's Voting Records on National Security," accessed September 26, 2013
  12. The Library of Congress, "H.R.624 CISPA (2013) (Referred in Senate - RFS)," accessed August 27, 2013
  13. Project Vote Smart, "Ellison on agriculture," accessed September 26, 2013
  14. New York Times, "House Republicans Push Through Farm Bill, Without Food Stamps," accessed September 17, 2013
  15. Project Vote Smart, "Letter to Ranking Member Collin Peterson, House Committee on Agriculture - Reject Rep. King's Provision on Farm Bill," accessed September 23, 2013
  16., "King Farm Bill Amendment Angers Animal Advocates," accessed September 18, 2013
  17. 17.0 17.1 Clerk of the U.S. House, "Final vote results for Roll Call 504," accessed October 31, 2013
  18. Buzzfeed, "Government Shutdown: How We Got Here," accessed October 1, 2013
  19. The Washington Post, "Reid, McConnell propose bipartisan Senate bill to end shutdown, extend borrowing," accessed October 16, 2013
  20. U.S. House, "Final vote results for Roll Call 550," accessed October 31, 2013
  21. The Library of Congress, "H.AMDT.136," accessed August 28, 2013
  22. Project Vote Smart, "Representative Keith Ellison's Voting Records on Immigration," accessed September 26, 2013
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 NBC News, "Democratic lawmakers arrested during immigration protest," accessed October 9, 2013
  24. Project Vote Smart, "Representative Keith Ellison's Voting Records on Issue: Health and Healthcare," accessed September 26, 2013
  25. Politico, "Pols back #FastFoodStrikes," accessed December 6, 2013
  26. U.S., "Full Member List of Congressional Snap Challenge," accessed September 25, 2013 (dead link)
  27. Feeding America, "Taking the SNAP Challenge," accessed September 25, 2013
  28. On the Issues, "Ellison on Civil Rights," accessed September 11, 2013
  29. Project Vote Smart, "Ellison on abortion," accessed September 26, 2013
  30. U.S. House, "Roll Call Vote on the Fiscal Cliff," accessed January 4, 2013.
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 31.4 31.5 31.6 Keith Ellison for Congress, "Issues"
  32., "Keith Ellison Cycle Fundraising 2011-2012," accessed February 10, 2012
  33. CBS, "Primary Results 2012," accessed May 30, 2013
  34. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010," accessed March 28, 2013
  35. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 4, 2008," accessed March 28, 2013
  36. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 2006," accessed March 28, 2013
  37., "Keith Ellison," accessed May 16, 2013
  38. Federal Election Commission, "Ellsion 2014 Summary reports," accessed July 18, 2013
  39. FEC, "April Quarterly," accessed July 18, 2013
  40. FEC, "July Quarterly," accessed July 18, 2013
  41. FEC, "October Quarterly," accessed October 23, 2013
  42. FEC, "Year-End Quarterly," accessed February 11, 204
  43. FEC, "April Quarterly," accessed May 16, 2014
  44., "2012 Re-Election Cycle," accessed February 15, 2013
  45., "Keith Ellison 2010 Re-Election Cycle," accessed December 11, 2011
  46. OpenCongress, "Keith Ellison," accessed August 5, 2013
  47. 47.0 47.1 GovTrack, "Keith Ellison," accessed June 14, 2013
  48. LegiStorm, "Keith Ellison," accessed October 8, 2012
  49., "Keith Ellison (D-MN), 2012"
  50. National Journal, "TABLE: House Liberal Scores by Issue Area," accessed February 26, 2013
  51. National Journal, "Searchable Vote Ratings Tables: House," accessed February 23, 2012
  52. OpenCongress, "Voting With Party," accessed July 2014
  53. Official House Site, "Biography," accessed December 10, 2011
Political offices
Preceded by
Martin Olav Sabo
U.S. House of Representatives - Minnesota, District 5
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Minnesota House of Representatives
Succeeded by