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Stephen Montemayor

Reporter | Politics and Government
Phone: 612-673-1755
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Stephen Montemayor covers politics and government in Minnesota. He previously reported on federal courts and law enforcement for the Star Tribune.

A native of Kansas City, Montemayor lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two cats. He graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism and enjoys camping, travel and a good beer.
Recent content from Stephen Montemayor
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison

Company cancels plan to recruit armed guards for Minnesota polls

Attorney General Keith Ellison opened an investigation on Tuesday in response to job listings for ex-special forces members.
Seventh Congressional District candidate Michelle Fischbach arrived at a watch party in Olivia, Minn., Aug. 11.

Michelle Fischbach hopes she'll be the one to flip Minnesota's 7th District from Collin Peterson

Former lieutenant governor and state senator is trying to defeat a 30-year incumbent.
Kilray Beaumont, 59, dropped off absentee ballot requests as well as ballots from his assisted-living complex at the Minneapolis early voting center T

Calls for armed guards, 'Army for Trump' cause alarm in Minn.

Amid preparations complicated by the pandemic, state and federal officials are monitoring new reports of private security contractors advertising jobs that would — illegally — dispatch armed guards to Minnesota polls.
FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2020 file photo voters line up outside of the Minneapolis early voting center as Minnesota opened early voting for the general

Attorney General Keith Ellison probes firm hiring armed guards for Minnesota polling sites

Rights groups sue to keep Atlas Aegis from sending ex-soldiers to watch polls.
Attorney General Keith Ellison.

Walz, Ellison warn political campaigns to comply with Minnesota's COVID-19 safety rules

Walz and Ellison focus especially on safety of large political gatherings in the run-up to Election Day.
Eric Trump, the son of President Donald Trump, points to supporters as he speaks at a campaign rally for his father in Monroe, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 8,

Ellison, state GOP spar over COVID requirements for Eric Trump rally

Ellison says office asked for a required preparedness plan; GOP claims abuse of power.
Lisa Finander, right, checks that each ballot has the voter's name on the ballot and mailing envelope and Laurie Mattila, left, checked that it was co

Federal judge upholds Minnesota's extended ballot counting

Judge turns back GOP challenge, says ballots postmarked Nov. 3 are valid if received by Nov. 10.
Sen. Tina Smith talked with co-owner Tracie Vranich as she visited Chapel Brewing in Dundas, Minnesota. ] GLEN STUBBE •

Sen. Tina Smith works to forge her own positive identity in the Senate

Tina Smith is still defining herself by looking on the bright side while seeking common ground
Election volunteer Dwane Martin sported some "I Voted" stickers on his face mask as he handed them out at Jimmy Lee Recreation Center in St. Paul on A

Federal judge upholds Gov. Walz's mask mandate at the polls

U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz wrote that a lawsuit brought by the Minnesota Voters Alliance and five conservative political activists had "no chance of success."
This March 4, 2020, image shows a collection of Instagram posts, which Facebook, the owner of Instagram, yanked off the site in October after concludi

Disinformation about election finds fertile ground in state

A dramatic rise in mail-in voting, a pandemic and tensions around racism and policing — issues playing out in Minnesota — are ripe for exploitation by adversaries seeking to interfere in the November election.
A QAnon sign in Olympia, Wash., in May. In Minnesota, six GOP candidates have expressed support for the conspiracy theory.

Minnesota GOP lawmaker speaks out against QAnon supporters on ballot

State Rep. Patrick Garofalo, R-Farmington, in a post on Twitter, called QAnon "a crackpot conspiracy group that has zero legitimacy."
FILE - In this May 14, 2020 file photo, a person carries a sign supporting QAnon at a protest rally in Olympia, Wash.

6 GOP-endorsed candidates in Minnesota back conspiracy theory of QAnon

The theory includes false claims that Satanists and pedophiles run the government and that COVID-19 is part of a plot to steal the election.
"I will be physically be going to the polls," Alison Schneider of Apple Valley said. "I don't think I would trust the Postal Service with a critical m

As campaigns target Minnesota, voters worry about ballot security, virus, mail

As camps target state, voters worry about ballot security, virus, U.S. mail.
Collin Peterson and Michelle Fischbach debate on Thursday in their race for the Seventh Congressional District seat.

Collin Peterson, Michelle Fischbach spar in their first U.S. House debate

The Seventh Congressional District, long led by Peterson, is viewed as a tossup this year.
Nora Jenneman and Ryan Seibold voted as their children Fern Seibold, 5 and Rainer Seibold, 10 looked on at the Roosevelt High School polling location,

Minnesota Supreme Court suspends limit on helping others vote in person

But state cap on delivering absentee ballots remains.
“She has been very consistent in her character and in her demeanor and in her commitment to being fair,” Minneapolis attorney Annamarie Daley, sai

Judge overseeing Floyd family's federal suit no stranger to high stakes litigation

Susan Richard Nelson is overseeing the Floyd family's federal lawsuit.
Minnesota State Auditor Julie Blaha’s office calculated that the average sub-$1,500 forfeiture amounted to $473.

State auditor seeks limits on crime-related forfeitures, saying they hurt low-income people

State Auditor Julie Blaha calls for eliminating forfeitures of less than $1,500.
Former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane, right, entered the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility on June 29 with his attorney Earl Gray, left.

Descended from cops, he saw his Mpls. police career last 4 days

Thomas Lane's life, viewed through the lens of those who knew him, shows a quiet man challenged at times with personal struggles, yet driven by his desire to wear a badge.
Tnuza Jamal Hassan

Mpls. woman admits to trying to join al-Qaida, setting fires at St. Kate's in St. Paul

Tnuza Jamal Hassan has been in custody since Jan. 2018 arrest.
The Minneapolis Third Police Precinct station was set on fire in late May during a third night of protests following the killing of George Floyd while

4 Minnesota men indicted on arson charges in Third Precinct fire

Charges outline efforts to burn down Minneapolis police station as unrest raged over George Floyd's killing.
This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, shows Derek Chauvin, from left,

Federal grand jury investigating civil rights charges in police killing of George Floyd

Spurred by intense public scrutiny and political pressure, federal authorities are moving faster in their investigation of possible criminal civil rights crimes in the May…

Sherburne County sued for not delivering nonprofit's legal magazines to jail inmates

It says legal magazines weren't delivered.

California man sentenced to 17 years in sex trafficking plot that spanned from Thailand to Minnesota

Californian is one of five convicted of trafficking hundreds across the U.S.
Smoke billowed in May from a fire at the Wells Fargo near the Fifth Precinct police station in Minneapolis.

Two Twin Cities suburban men face federal arson charges for late May blaze at Wells Fargo branch

They are the latest in more than dozen federal arson, rioting cases filed since the riots after George Floyd's killing.
The Justice Department is seeking tips on COVID-19 related fraud cases through its National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.

Prosecutors: St. Paul man defrauded COVID-19 business relief program, spent money on Harley

Allegations involve falsified loan and business documents, and a personal expenditure on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Voting judge Johanna Boller cleaned voting booths in the gymnasium at Highland Park Middle School, where Ward 3, Precinct 14 voters in St. Paul cast b

No lines at the polls, no trouble as mail-in ballots dominate primary

The historic crush of absentee ballots cast by mail before Election Day meant a dramatic dip in in-person participation statewide.

Orono man is third to face charges in Minnesota in multimillion-dollar magazine scam probe

Brian James Williams was stopped from leaving country over the weekend.
Derek Chauvin

Even to friends, former officer Derek Chauvin was an enigma

Driven to be a cop, he spent 19 years on the streets. "I don't know what happened to him," former colleague said.
Former Minneapolis police officer J. Alexander Kueng, left, arrived with his attorney Thomas Plunkett for a hearing at the Hennepin County Government

Judge won't strike Mike Freeman from prosecution in George Floyd death

Citing conflict of interest, a defense attorney moved for Freeman's removal on Thursday.
Former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao, right, arrived with his lawyer Robert Paule, left, for a hearing at the Hennepin County Government Center

Judge drops gag order in case against four ex-cops charged in Floyd killing

Judge Peter Cahill has not yet ruled on motion for broad release of police body-camera videos.
Wayne R. Dahl Jr.

Fridley man pleads guilty in multimillion-dollar magazine fraud

Telemarketing scheme targeted the vulnerable.
Usama Darwich Hamade

Federal judge in Minnesota sentences second brother for sending drone parts to Hezbollah

A federal judge in Minneapolis on Monday sentenced a 55-year-old dual Lebanese and South African citizen to 42 months in federal prison for illegally sending…
Biiftuu Adam acts a point person for families throughout the legal process in BCA investigations of officer-involved deaths.

New victim services coordinator focused on police killings takes job at turbulent time

Biiftuu Adam is the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's first-ever liaison to families of people who died in police encounters.
Michael Solomon, an adherent of the anti-government Boogaloo Bois movement, calls himself an “armed redneck.”

Minnesota's Boogaloo movement: Armed, eager for societal collapse

Militia-style extremists "know we have a target on us," a New Brighton man says.
File photo of U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald, who on Wednesday announced the formation of a multiagency task force to combat a surge in gun violence in

U.S. attorney for Minnesota convenes a multiagency task force focused on surging Twin Cities violence

Federal, state authorities will operate out of joint command center for at least 30 days.

Florida businessman linked to massive telemarketing fraud pleads guilty

Alleged conspiracy totaled at least $100M through fake magazine sales.
Police and federal authorities shown investigating in 2017 after an explosion at the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington. ter.

Trial delayed for 'White Rabbits' militia leader allegedly behind Bloomington mosque bombing

Michael Hari is only member of an Illinois militia charged in the 2017 attack left to stand trial.
Matthew Scott White, 31, of Minneapolis, at left, and Mohamed Hussein Abdi, 19, of Maplewood.

New federal arson charges for May blazes set at Gordon Parks High School, St. Paul Enterprise Rent-A-Car building

At least 14 federal criminal cases have been filed in unrest over Floyd's death.

Florida man charged in federal $100M fake magazine service conspiracy linked to thousands of Minnesota victims

Charges come two years after a Fridley man was indicted on a related fraud charge.
Attorney Ben Crump also represents the families of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, serving as a spokesman as well.

Floyd family attorney Crump preparing federal civil rights lawsuit

He has won more than 200 police brutality suits and represents the families of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbury in addition to Floyd's.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison spoke to a crowd in front of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial on June 15 in Duluth. One of the viral rumor

Disinformation after George Floyd's death adds to unrest

Fake domestic reports and increased scrutiny by foreign sources add to a tinderbox of instability during an election year that intelligence officials had already warned would be rife with attempts both inside and out to sow division.
Derek Chauvin, from left, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao.

Judge denies audiovisual coverage of hearings for former officers charged in George Floyd killing

A Hennepin County judge on Friday rejected an unusual request to allow cameras in the courtroom filed by attorneys representing four former Minneapolis officers charged…
Colin Kaepernick.

Colin Kaepernick helping to cover legal costs for Minnesota protesters

Kaepernick's charity will pay a "substantial" sum to aid protesters charged with violating curfew.
Attorney General Keith Ellison spoke during a June 3 press conference, accompanied by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, at the Minnesota Departme

Officer prosecution latest test for Keith Ellison, Mike Freeman

Two of the state's biggest legal personalities go back nearly three decades. They're reunited to confront a legal quagmire: the prosecution of four former Minneapolis police officers in the May 25 killing of George Floyd.
A federal criminal complaint states that police surveillance video captured this image of Bryce Michael Williams, armed with a Molotov cocktail, at th

Basketball player, 'TikTok influencer' latest to be arrested in Third Police Precinct blaze

Bryce Michael Williams, of Staples, Minn., is at least the 10th to face federal charges since unrest over George Floyd's death.
Thousands descended on the Third Precinct station, which was set ablaze after Minneapolis police abandoned the building.

Feds charge Brainerd-area man with helping burn Third Precinct building

Dylan Shakespeare Robinson, 23, was arrested Sunday in Colorado.
Seyed Sajjad Shahidian, 33, pleaded guilty Tuesday in a federal court in Minneapolis to a conspiracy charge related to financial transactions with Ira

Iranian CEO pleads guilty to multimillion-dollar fraud conspiracy in Minnesota

Seyed Sajjad Shahidian admitted to making nearly two dozen illegal payments to Digital River in Minnetonka.
Robert Allen Walker, the founder of Select Comfort and former CEO of Bixby Energy, filed a motion Thursday to be released from prison, citing the thre

Sleep Number founder serving fraud sentence latest to cite COVID-19 in push for early release

Robert Allen Walker's appeal provides a glimpse of the damage being done in federal prisons by the coronavirus.
An image of Matthew Lee Rupert in front of a burning building in Minneapolis

Third person charged with burning St. Paul health store during riots over George Floyd's death

An Illinois man also is indicted on charges of traveling to Twin Cities to riot.
Chief Justice Lorie Skjerven Gildea, seen in 2017, said the decision to resume jury trials has been a painstaking one.

Jury trials resuming in Minnesota, but concern about virus remains high

Jury trials — a bedrock function of the criminal justice system — are slowly coming back in Minnesota after a three-month hiatus brought on by…
Joe Kelly, director of the Minnesota Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Minnesota seeking federal disaster declaration, joint assessment of damages to businesses hit by rioting

Homeland Security and Emergency Management director asked federal officials to help conduct a joint assessment of damages in Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington counties.
Derek Chauvin

Florida attorney seeking probe of Derek Chauvin's voting record

The fired Minneapolis officer charged with murder in George Floyd's death voted in Florida, where he also has property, in 2016 and 2018.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on Wednesday announced new charges against four former Minneapolis police officers in the death of George Flo

Minn. county attorneys call for giving AG's Office power to charge all police killings

Lawmakers would need to pass legislation during special session this month to give the attorney general the authority.
The booking mugs of the three former Minneapolis officers charged Wednesday with aiding and abetting murder. From left are J Alexander Kueng, Thomas L

Four fired Mpls. officers booked, charged in killing of George Floyd

A more serious charge of second-degree murder was added to the counts against Derek Chauvin. Three other fired Minneapolis officers are now booked in jail, charged with aiding and abetting murder.
Protesters took up positions on barricades after the National Guard briefly arrived at the edge of the protest site. ] MARK VANCLEAVE - Several hundre

DFL leaders: Policing reform will be 'centerpiece' of special session agenda

'We are at a critical point,' lawmakers say as George Floyd's death revives policing proposals from AG, public safety commissioner.
.Ellison caption goes here FILE - In this Wednesday, May 27, 2020, file photo, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison answers questions during a new

Ellison center stage in case of officer charged with murder

Long an outspoken critic of police misconduct, the AG will oversee prosecution in the racially charged case.
Gov. Tim Walz listened as Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison spoke at the press conference on Friday, May 29, about the unrest in the wake of th

AG Keith Ellison to take over case in Floyd killing

Gov. Tim Walz said Sunday that he concluded Ellison needed to take over the case from the Hennepin County Attorney's Office at the urging of Floyd's family, community activists, and some members of the Minneapolis City Council.
“They were not demonstrating for a cause, they were not protesting for injustice, they were simply bent on destruction of property and they were ben

Attention turns more to the role of out-of-state rioters

People from all corners of the country have increasingly turned up as the protests have grown in size and violence.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison left, and John Harrington, Minnesota Department of Public Safety commissioner, are key players urging action

Will George Floyd's death revive police reform proposals in the Minnesota Legislature?

After the events of this week, there might be a more receptive hearing at the Capitol.
Kris Schiffler, right, the owner of Shady’s Hometown Tavern in Albany, told supporters outside his business on May 18 that he’s not opening his ba

Enforcement action against Shady's tees up legislative clash

It also deepened the tussle over Gov. Tim Walz's peacetime emergency powers.
This Nov. 6, 2019 file photo shows Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon speaking in in St. Paul, Minn. Simon believes the state gets something out

League of Women Voters challenges Minnesota absentee voting witness rule

League of Women Voters says requirements for witnesses too restrictive.
U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis waves from the parade of vehicles outside Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’ official residence, Friday, April 17, 2020 in S

GOP Senate candidate Jason Lewis joins flurry of suits against Minnesota shutdown orders

The U.S. Senate candidate has made reopening the state a campaign focus.
Crowds gathered outside Shady's Hometown Tavern in Albany, Minn., waiting for the doors to open before noon on Monday, May 18, 2020.

Judge shuts down attempt to open Stearns County bar early

"I'm not standing here in tears because I'm happy to open," said Kris Schiffler, owner of Shady's Hometown Tavern. "I'm standing here in tears because the attorney general has just shut us down."

Hennepin County judge becomes Walz's fourth Appeals Court pick

Hennepin County judge heading to court where she once clerked.
Crowds gathered outside Shady's Hometown Tavern in Albany, Minn. on Monday but the tavern decided not to reopen.

Ellison sues Minn. bar owner who planned to open early

GOP lawmakers criticized the move in a letter: "The reality is, when a Main Street business in rural Minnesota shuts down, it hardly ever reopens."
Newly appointed Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice Gordon Moore speaks during a news conference in St. Paul on Friday.

Walz makes Worthington judge his first state Supreme Court selection

Nobles County Judge Gordon Moore will replace the retiring Justice David Lillehaug.
Attorney General Keith Ellison spoke at the end Friday prayer at Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomingtonin 2019.

Effort to broaden hate crime reporting in Minnesota stalls

Statewide policy on hate crime investigations hits a dead end in the state Senate.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon

Walz considers 'next steps' to increase mail-in voting in Minnesota

Universal vote-by-mail was a nonstarter at the Legislature, but Walz is considering his options.
The Minnesota Senate advanced the bill to raise the state's minimum age to buy tobacco products on a, 43-21 vote, after more than 90 minutes of debate

Minnesota Senate votes to raise tobacco purchase age to 21

The Senate vote sends the bill to Gov. Tim Walz after the Minnesota House advanced similar legislation on Saturday.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon

Older Minnesota voters file suit to change absentee voting rules

Part of a nationwide legal effort, the lawsuit seeks to amend witness and postmark requirements on absentee ballots.
DFL State Sen. Jeff Hayden, left, and state Rep. Raymond Dehn.

Veteran DFL lawmakers question virtual conventions after coming up short

Two legislative stalwarts lose endorsements as a wave of younger, more liberal challengers emerges in Minneapolis.
Former Lt. Governor Michelle Fischbach is running in the Seventh Congressional District GOP primary to challenge DFL incumbent Collin Peterson.

After 'bumpy' GOP endorsement fight, Michelle Fischbach seeks to unseat Collin Peterson

Bruising convention battle calls into question party unity behind the Peterson challenger.
Joe Kelly leads the Minnesota Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

State emergency director brings calm to pandemic response

"I'm trying to make things digestible and understandable for the people of Minnesota in an environment where there's so much going on and so much data, so much information," said Joe Kelly, who has been at his post since 2015. "I'm trying to give them some anchor points."
Attorney General Keith Ellison: “In many ways, our priorities haven’t been derailed. They’ve been intensified at this moment in time.”

Mom's death helps drive Keith Ellison's fight against 'devastating' virus

While the pandemic has become a central focus, he said it has only magnified the importance of some priorities for his second year in office.
In this Aug. 28, 2017, photo, Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice David L. Lillehaug asks questions during oral arguments at the Capitol in St.

Gov. Tim Walz narrows Minnesota Supreme Court finalists to four

Appointee would replace retiring Justice David Lillehaug.