AZ State Senator Huppenthal charged with theft

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UPDATE: Arizona State Senator John Huppenthal has been formally charged with theft stemming from an incident on election day of 2008.

Huppenthal is accused of cutting down the campaign sign of an opponent, according to Santan court documents.

Allegedly, 78 year-old Ruth Levin, a Democratic activist, witnessed Huppenthal cutting down the sign of his democratic opponent. Levin got out and confronted Huppenthal, who got into a conflict with Levin and then left in his SUV.

Huppenthal has not been served with the charges yet.

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CHANDLER -- Chandler police say they're going to recommend charges be filed against a veteran state lawmaker over an Election Day incident.

Police feel Republican state Sen. John Huppenthal should be prosecuted on misdemeanor counts of theft and tampering with a political sign.

Huppenthal contends he did nothing wrong when he removed a political sign critical of him from an apartment complex where a polling station was located. He claims he had permission from the manager of the complex.

But a 78-year-old Democratic volunteer accused the senator of yanking the sign from her hands after they got into a tug-of-war over the sign.

It will be up to city prosecutors in Chandler to decide whether to file charges against Huppenthal.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Information from: East Valley Tribune/Scottsdale Tribune

ORIGINAL STORY AZ senator scuffles with elderly voter over campaign sign

Senator could face charges
azfamily.com

CHANDLER - A 78-year-old voter found herself in the middle of a heated confrontation at the polls.

That confrontation was not with just any voter though, the elderly activist says she got into it with an Arizona state senator.

We live in a partisan society and over the last few weeks have heard plenty of stories about arguments or scuffles over political signs.

Ruth Levin, 78, says she was out at a polling site near Rural and Ray Road in Chandler handing out pamphlets for a friend of hers, Ted Maish, when a car pulled up next to her. She says, "A man drove up next to the curb, rushed out of his car and with a knife started to cut the plastic holding of the sign."

The man who hopped out of that car was Republican Senator John Huppenthal. The sign he was cutting down claimed he denied Corona del Sol High School of the funding it needed to fix its mold and ventilation situation.

"I said, 'You can't do that.' He said he had permission. I knew that he did not," Levin explains.

According to Chandler police, a sort of tug of war ensued over the sign. Levin says,"He wrenched it out of my hands and put it in the trunk of his car."

Before Huppenthal drove away Levin was able to write down the license plate number and snatch a handful of business cards from his passenger seat.

Sen. Huppenthal tells 3TV, "The democrat party had engaged in a strategy this whole campaign of doing a tremendous amount of smears of candidates."

He also says the sign was on a nearby apartment property and he got permission from an employee there to take the sign down.

Huppenthal says, "You can't put up a sign without the permission of the property owner so I went out and removed the sign and went around to the back of the property complex and, standard operating procedure, and put it right beside a dumpster and that's what happened."

He says he was also upset about robo-calls he said went out Tuesday exaggerating the situation.

Police say the investigation is still ongoing and Huppenthal could see charges of disorderly conduct and criminal damage.