Ernst says she turned down 2016 VP offer, alleges physical abuse


Joseph Cress

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speaks during a town hall meeting in Sinclair Auditorium in Cedar Rapids on the Coe College campus on Friday, March 17, 2017.

Sarah Watson, Politics Editor

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa turned down an offer from then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016 due to family reasons, according to divorce documents.

Ernst made the claim in a divorce affidavit filed in October, but was made available this month due to Ernst and her former husband, Gail Ernst, finalizing their divorce according to The Des Moines Register.

She filed the affidavit in October to ask the courts to reject a request from Gail Ernst, who she alleges physically, mentally, and verbally abused her before their divorce, to make monthly alimony payments.

Joni Ernst, 48, called the 26-year marriage and ultimate divorce a “very painful journey” in the affidavit.

The eventual settlement, signed in December and accepted by a judge earlier this month, doesn’t require either party to pay alimony. The judge also left Joni Ernst with the condominium in Washington D.C. and Gail Ernst their house in Red Oak.

Also in the affidavit, Joni Ernst alleged Gail Ernst physically abused her after she confronted him about an alleged affair with a babysitter during the time when she served as Montgomery County auditor, which was from 2005 to 2011.

She wrote that a county victim advocate encouraged her to seek medical attention for her head and throat, but she decided to keep quiet about it.

Joni Ernsts’ lawyer filed an emergency request to reseal the affidavit after a Des Moines alternative newspaper, Cityview, first reported it. On Tuesday, a judge granted the request, and the public can no longer access the affidavit.

She announced the couple’s divorce in August of 2018.

According to the Register, she wrote after an interview with Trump that “I turned Candidate Trump down, knowing it wasn’t the right thing for me or my family.”

Joni Ernst has indicated that she will run for a second term in the U.S. Senate in 2020.

Her press office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.




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