Presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar has more than in-staff bullying allegations to worry about ahead of the 2020 primary.
American Public Media partnered with Minnesota Public Radio News to produce a thoroughly reported summary of Klobuchar’s record as the Hennepin County Attorney, where she served as the head prosecutor in charge of Minneapolis and the surrounding region from 1998 to 2006. Klobuchar was consistently a “tough-on-crime prosecutor,” as she notched the endorsement of the local police union in both of her elections following campaign promises of increased juvenile prosecutions and her public praise of New York City’s infamous “broken windows” tactic.
In her eight years as county prosecutor, Minneapolis paid out $4.8 million in settlements related to police misconduct, while the police were involved in 29 citizen deaths. As laid out by MPR, Klobuchar sent all but one of those 29 cases to a grand jury and none of the involved officers were ever charged. The report details two cases—those of 15-year-old Courtney Williams and Christopher Burns—in which the families of those killed by police believed the force employed by the officers was excessive and pleaded with Klobuchar to prosecute them. In both cases, Klobuchar declined and sent the cases to a grand jury.
Klobuchar’s actions as a prosecutor were par for course in the American justice system at the time, but her commitment to growing and moving past a past of cozying up with police departments remains shaky. As APM and MPR point out, Klobuchar has championed the fewest criminal justice reform bills of any of the six U.S. Senators in the running in the 2020 presidential election—in 12 years in the Senate, Klobuchar has sponsored or co-sponsored just nine bills to make the criminal justice system more equitable and fair.
In a statement to MPR, Klobuchar wrote, “I don’t have a perfect record, but I promise you, every single day in that job I tried to put myself in other people’s shoes to try to do the right thing,” adding that she was “working to make sure our criminal justice system actually delivers justice for all.”
Just as Kamala Harris’s record as San Francisco District Attorney and then California Attorney General has come under heavy scrutiny, MPR’s report should serve a worthwhile reminder that anyone employed as a prosecutor during the 1990s or early 2000s is going to have some serious questions to answer.