Police say they are investigating after a woman was caught on video seemingly stealing the campaign literature of a Republican congressman from a resident’s mailbox while distributing the campaign literature of a Democratic candidate for Minnesota Senate.
This past weekend the home security camera of a resident in Hibbing, a city in northeastern Minnesota, captured footage of a woman opening his mailbox to insert a campaign flyer from Ben DeNucci, a Democrat candidate for state Senate, and subsequently removing a campaign flyer from Rep. Pete Stauber, a Republican serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, the resident said on Facebook.
“My buddy sent me the flyer that matches what they took out of my mailbox,” the resident said.
The Hibbing Police Department initially posted a video of the crime on Facebook but removed it after announcing they identified the woman. They then said in a press release Monday that the investigation remains “open and ongoing.”
“The Hibbing Police Department received a report of a female individual taking mail from a mail box while putting in what appears to be a flyer over this past weekend,” police said. “The individual is in the process of being identified.”
Ben DeNucci for Senate campaign caught not only lit dropping into mailboxes, but stealing a Pete Stauber mailer from someone’s home.
These are of course federal offenses.
— Dustin Grage (@GrageDustin) October 16, 2022
Federal law prohibits the stealing or removing of “any letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail” from a mailbox. A person convicted of such an offense may be fined and imprisoned for up to five years.
DeNucci’s campaign has been posting information about door-knocking events on Facebook, inviting supporters to meet at the local headquarters of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party before heading out. One was held this past Saturday, the day the incident took place.
A door-knocking event for Monday afternoon encouraged supporters to “come be part of a movement on the Iron Range to elect a defender of women’s reproductive freedom.”
Running in Minnesota Senate District 7 against Republican candidate Rob Farnsworth, DeNucci wrote on his campaign Facebook page Sunday evening that the woman’s actions were “not sanctioned by our campaign.”
“The house where the incident happened was not part of an authorized canvass by our campaign,” DeNucci said. “We have informed the Hibbing Police Department that we are aware of the incident and stand by to assist in any way we can.”
Rep. Stauber’s campaign manager, Johnny Eloranta, released a statement Sunday accusing Democrats of “resorting to the lowest of tactics” since they “have nothing to offer to voters.”
“We hope the Democrats will come clean and cooperate with law enforcement because the citizens of our district deserve nothing less,” Eloranta said.
Republican Party of Minnesota chairman David Hann also called the incident a “shame” and announced the party’s intention to report it to the U.S. Postal Service so they could conduct their own investigation.