Jim Schultz, the Republican challenger to Democratic Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, is not letting the incumbent off easy when it comes to the massive rise in crime taking shape across the state.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News Digital, Schultz declared Ellison “missing in action” when it comes to addressing the crime plaguing Minnesotans, and argued it was an “absolute disgrace” that he has not held criminals accountable for their actions.
“Keith Ellison is the ‘Defund the Police’ attorney general. He backed defunding the police, of course, in Minnesota here. Sadly, a lot of our so-called leaders helped ignite the ‘Defund the Police’ movement across the country. Keith Ellison was at the forefront of that, and folks resent that,” Schultz said when asked about the rise in crime across the state.
Recent polls have showed a tight race in the Democratic-leaning state, with Schultz attributing the close race to Ellison’s approach to handling crime, and arguing there was a direct line from his “Defund the Police” and “soft on crime” policies to the crime and violence gripping cities like Minneapolis.
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“We have to have an attorney general in Minnesota, and broadly, we need prosecutors to hold criminals accountable for their actions and support law enforcement,” he said.
Schultz noted increases in various crime statistics, such as murders, carjackings and sexual assaults, but said that it was also right to focus on issues like the drug crisis and the flow of fentanyl into Minnesota communities.
According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, violent crime increased state-wide by 21.6% in 2021, while the Minneapolis metro-area saw a 23.9% increase in the same year.
“It’s an area where our current attorney general is completely missing in action. We have methamphetamine issues, in particular in greater Minnesota, but also in the metro… It completely goes unaddressed,” he said.
“We have to ensure… that we have prosecutors broadly that are focused on holding criminals accountable for this serious crime. It’s an absolute disgrace. So many of these reckless politicians who’ve gotten behind these ‘Defund the Police’ policies and otherwise have failed to hold criminals accountable for their actions,” he added.
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When asked to rate Ellison’s handling of the high-profile criminal prosecutions against numerous law enforcement officers in the state, Schultz criticized his treatment of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter, who was convicted of manslaughter last year after accidentally shooting a fleeing suspect with her firearm instead of her taser.
“There should be consequences for that, but I will tell you, it’s not first degree manslaughter. And that’s what she was ultimately convicted of. Ellison did that. He upcharged her, ignored the recommendation of county prosecutors… ultimately put her in prison for two years for a serious mistake, and the fact is, that’s representative of the fundamentally political nature of his office. It’s representative of mob justice. That’s what was doled out there. So it’s an absolute outrage,” he said.
“It’s part of the reason why we’ve seen throughout the country people leaving law enforcement and people not coming into law enforcement. And so that case, and many others where police feel like they don’t know the standards that they’re going to be held accountable to, because ultimately it is prosecutors with their finger to the wind, seeing what the public sentiment is, not what is fundamentally just in the given circumstance. We can’t have that,” he added.
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Schultz later described what he would do if elected attorney general, such as hold criminals accountable and ensure the right resources were in place to support cracking down on crime.
“In Keith Ellison, we have remarkably the most reckless and far-left attorney general that we’ve ever had in Minnesota’s history. And what I would bring to the office is somebody who would get back to basics, who is going to hold criminals accountable for serious crimes, partner with law enforcement, not undermine them by getting behind policies like defunding the police and otherwise,” he said.
“Right now, there’s only three prosecutors in an office of 150 attorneys. What we need is a dramatically larger criminal division so that we have the resources we need to hold criminals accountable,” he said.
Schultz added that the state’s next attorney general needed to set “the right tone,” meaning supporting police and making sure criminals are “aggressively pursued.”
The general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.