Campaign Mailer Puts St. Paul Mayor's Race in Turmoil

October 28, 2017 03:57 PM

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and mayoral candidate Pat Harris called for the resignation of the St. Paul Police Federation board after it demanded the serial numbers of two handguns stolen from the home of mayoral candidate Melvin Carter.

Coleman said the board has "embarrassed the good men and women of the St. Paul Police Department."

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A letter from the St. Paul Police Federation first questioned why Carter hadn't been more cooperative with police trying to recover the guns stolen from his home in a burglary. The next day a campaign mailer was sent out by the "Building a Better St. Paul" political action committee. The flyer made similar allegations.

"The racist attacks and hollow apologies of the last two days may have been aimed at one candidate, but they affect all people of color, and all people of character," Coleman said in a statement.

RELATED: St. Paul Man Charged in Burglary of Mayoral Candidates Home

The executive board includes David Titus, Jim Falkowski, Paul Kuntz, Mark Ross, Jason Brubaker, Don Benner, Chris McGuire and David Quast.

St. Paul Police Federation Board President Dave Titus responded to Coleman's statement Thursday night by criticizing him for not adequately dealing with crime in the city. However, on Friday Titus took a different tone in another written statement.

"I regret the distraction this has caused during such an important mayoral race and period of violent crime in our city," Titus wrote. "Once the ramifications of the letter became clear I issued a sincere apology to the Carter family, an apology I reiterate today."

However, Titus says neither he or any of his board members will resign.

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Pat Harris, an opponent of Carter in the mayoral race, also called for the board to resign, even though they endorsed Harris.

"There is absolutely no place in Saint Paul for the type of dirty, political tactics and dog whistle racism that have come from the Saint Paul Police Federation's leadership over the past few days," Harris said in a statement on his campaign Facebook page Thursday night.

Harris also returned a contribution to his campaign from the police federation.

In another twist on a fast-moving series of events on Friday, the "Building a Better St. Paul" disbanded as a result of the controversy.

In a statement, the group said the campaign mailer, "was misguided and we apologize for the harm it has created.  We also regret any harm or negative impact our actions may have created for our funders and supporters."

In addition to the police federation, the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce also contributed to the group. They issued a statement Friday that said they, "repudiate and denounce this message in the strongest terms."

The request for resignations came after a back-and-forth between the police federation and Carter's campaign. The federation argued the serial numbers of the gun are important to prevent and help solve violent crimes.

Carter's campaign argued the federation's actions show how minorities are presumed guilty.

"The idea that a victim of a crime could become the accused based solely off the color of their skin is exactly why police culture needs to change," Carter's campaign manager said in a statement.

The firearms were stolen from Carter's house Aug. 15. Larobin Shawntel Scott has been charged in connection to the burglary.

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