Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota will appear at a fundraiser for Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam’s gubernatorial campaign Monday.
Ellison is featured as a “special guest” on the “Northam for Virginia” fundraiser invitation, which advertises tickets ranging from $250 to $5,000.
Ellison, who serves as deputy chair to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), is a leader within the progressive wing of the party despite past associations with the Nation of Islam and a number of inflammatory statements related to race and Judaism that have followed him through out his career.
Most recently Ellison incited controversy by comparing the illegal immigrants vulnerable to deportation due to the elimination of Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections to Jews in Nazi Germany.
“I’m one of the people who believes we should give our neighbors sanctuary,” Ellison said Tuesday during a speech to constituents in Minnesota. “And if you ask yourself what would I do if I was a gentile in 1941 if my Jewish neighbors were under attack by the Nazis — would I give them sanctuary?”
“You might be about to find out what you would do,” he added. “Would you pass that moral test or will you fail it?”
The recent comments were not the first time Ellison has invoked the specter of 1940s Germany to illustrate his perspective on contemporary political issues.
Ellison argued that former President George W. Bush’s response to the attacks of September 11th compared to the conduct of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler during a 2007 interview.
“It’s almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that,” he said during an address to a gathering of atheists in Minnesota. “After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it, and it put the leader of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted.”
Ellison later apologized for the statement and conceded that the comparison was inappropriate.
The Minnesota lawmaker, who pledged himself to an agenda of pure obstruction upon President Donald Trump’s election, praised North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un for handling escalating tensions with the U.S. in a more responsible manner than Trump.
“North Korea is a serious thing,” Ellison told attendees at the NetrootsNation conference in early August. “You have this guy making bellicose threats against somebody else who has very little to lose over there. Kim Jong Un, the world always thought he was not a responsible leader; well, he’s acting more responsible than this guy is.”
Northam, who is locked in a tight race with Republican Ed Gillespie, emphasized the importance of uniting the nation and railed against “hatred and bigotry” when the subject of confederate monuments came up during the second debate of the race Tuesday night.
Ellison’s attendance at the upcoming fundraiser represents Northam’s embrace of the progressive wing of the party but has the potential to expose him to attack given Ellison’s history of inflammatory rhetoric.
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