Kahn faces theft charges

Rep. Phyllis Kahn could face up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Chad Hamblin

Veteran state Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, was charged Friday with misdemeanor theft charges for lifting a Republican representative’s campaign literature from New Hope, Minn. residents’ doorsteps.

Kahn, who serves the areas surrounding the University’s Minneapolis campus, said she wrote an apology to Rep. Lynne Osterman, R-Minneapolis, but declined to comment further.

New Hope City Attorney Steve Sondrall, who filed the charge, said he does not think the case will go to trial, because Kahn has already admitted to the offense.

Kahn could face a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine if found guilty, he said.

However, Sondrall said he thinks Kahn’s sentence will be less than that.

At approximately 5:30 p.m. on July 19, New Hope police responded to a call of someone removing Osterman’s campaign literature from residents’ doorsteps, according to a court complaint.

The police stopped Kahn, who admitted to taking three pamphlets she said were in her car. When police searched her, they found five other pamphlets in her pockets, according to the complaint.

“What that tells me is that she was repeatedly and deliberately hoping to keep people from hearing from me,” Osterman said.

Lawrence Jacobs, a political science professor, said this is not the first time someone has stolen campaign literature, but said it is not good form.

“This is kind of like kicking the ball towards the pin in golf,” Jacobs said.

“The biggest damage is to her credibility and her reputation,” he said. “It’s very embarrassing for her and for the DFL.”

Austin Miller, president of the University of Minnesota DFL, said he hopes Kahn wasn’t taking the pamphlets to hurt Osterman’s campaign.

“It’s something we don’t support and we’re kind of shocked that someone with that much experience and knowledge would do that,” Miller said.

Amanda Hutchings, a University student and Kahn’s opponent in the upcoming election, said Kahn’s actions were unethical.

“It’s against the law, plain and simple,” she said. “I would have expected someone with 32 years of experience in the Legislature at this point to find out what is legal and illegal,” she said.