MINNEAPOLIS — The subject of crime dominated the second debate between Democratic Attorney General Keith Ellison and Republican challenger Jim Schultz, held Monday night live on WCCO Radio in Minneapolis.
A heated portion revolved around the $250 million "Feeding our Future" meal program fraud and Schultz's criticism that the state continued paying fraudsters after becoming suspicious.
Ellison alluded that the FBI told them to continue the payments.
"What was it that led you to continue making $200 million of payments when you already knew it was fraudulent, Keith?" Schultz asked.
"If we would have tipped them off, people would have fled. People would have burned documents. People would have wiped phones, computers, and the FBI would not be able to get to the bottom of the fraud," Ellison said. "And that is why the FBI said, 'Do not tell the fraudsters… do not tip them off about this fraud.'"
Ellison cast attention on his experience and defended his office's work in criminal prosecutions — helping small counties across the state with big cases.
"We've never turned down a serious case and we have won 100% of those cases," Ellison said.
But the prosecution of Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter was a point of contention in the debate. Ellison's office added a more serious charge when they took over the case. Schultz said he would vote to pardon Potter and commute her sentence if elected.
"Yes I will vote to commute her sentence. Her prosecution for 1st degree manslaughter was deeply disturbing and was fundamentally politically motivated," Schultz said.
The two candidates also sparred over Minneapolis' failed ballot question to replace the Minneapolis Police Department — which Ellison supported.
"He supported the most reckless and extreme public safety policy in Minnesota history," Schultz said.
"I think you don't really know what you're talking about about. You don't live in the city. You're not part of this thing. You're just standing from a distance throwing rocks," Ellison said.
Ellison held a slight lead over Schultz in the KARE 11 Minnesota Poll this fall, but in the most recent poll released by MinnPost, the two candidates are tied at 47%.
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