The Republican from Iowa alleged her husband, Gail, physically assaulted her when she confronted him about an alleged affair he was having with a babysitter, Ernst said, according to the Des Moines Register. A victim’s advocate sought to take her to the hospital after the assault, Ernst reportedly said.
“We went through a very dark and troubling time in our marriage,” Ernst, 48, said in the divorce filings. “I very nearly filed for divorce after a night we argued, and it became physical.”
Ernst reportedly took her daughter to her mother’s house. She turned down advice to go a hospital because she was “embarrassed and humiliated.” Ernst and her husband sought counseling, but the pair reportedly didn’t discuss the alleged assault.
After that, according to the Des Moines Register, the couple’s relationship was never the same.
She was also allegedly verbally and mentally abused by her husband, whom she called “cruel.” She said her husband was the catalyst behind her decision to turn down the chance to be President Trump’s running mate in 2016 because he “hated any successes I had and would belittle me and get angry any time I achieved a goal.”
“In the summer of 2016, I was interviewed by Candidate Trump to be vice president of the United States. I turned Candidate Trump down, knowing it wasn’t the right thing for me or my family,” Ernst said in the affidavit, according to The Guardian.
She added: “I continued to make sacrifices and not soar higher out of concern for Gail and our family.”
Ernst, then 46, reportedly met with Trump at his golf course in New Jersey in July 2016. After the meeting, Ernst told Politico she was “just getting started” in Iowa. She had first assumed office as a senator in 2015.
The senator’s husband was also allegedly not supportive of her decision to run for re-election in 2020.
“Although Gail seems to think he can live off my salary for the rest of his life, he is doing everything he can to destroy me and ruin my chance for re-election, which would end the gravy train he apparently plans to ride,” she wrote.
Gail Ernst said his wife’s career was “all-consuming” and impacted the amount of time she spent with her family.
“I gave up all my aspirations and goals to be a good dad and husband so Joni could pursue her dreams,” he said in the divorce filings.
Both Ernsts, who were married since the early 1990s, have accused one another of having affairs during their marriage. When the divorce was finalized this month, neither was granted alimony. Gail Ernst did receive their home in Red Oak, Iowa, and other properties.
Ernst’s office announced the divorce in August 2018.
“They remain committed to their children and family, and ask for respect for their privacy during this difficult time,” her office said in a statement.
The filing was made public since the two have settled their divorce.