Huppenthal denies altercation with Dem volunteer - East Valley Tribune: News

Huppenthal denies altercation with Dem volunteer

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Posted: Tuesday, November 4, 2008 3:08 pm | Updated: 10:16 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Republican state Sen. John Huppenthal said Tuesday he removed a campaign sign from a polling place but denied the incident turned into a physical altercation with a 78-year-old Democratic volunteer.

VIDEO: Volunteer discusses sign flap with state senator

Republican state Sen. John Huppenthal said Tuesday he removed a campaign sign from a polling place but denied the incident turned into a physical altercation with a 78-year-old Democratic volunteer.

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“I had permission to remove that sign,” Huppenthal said. “I removed that sign without physical contact with that woman.”

Chandler police had been searching for the driver of a car belonging to Huppenthal after the woman, Ruth Levin, reported he tried to wrest the sign from her.

A man driving a gold Lexus sport utility vehicle registered to Huppenthal pulled up to a polling location at 12:45 p.m. near Rural and Ray roads and cut down a political sign urging voters to oppose the longtime senator, said Detective David Ramer.

Levin, a Democratic volunteer passing out fliers for Huppenthal’s opponent, then tried to take the sign back from the man. The two played a game of tug of war until he snatched it out of her hands, stuffed it in his car and drove away, Ramer said.

As the man was leaving, Levin, who was not injured, opened the door to the SUV and grabbed a personal business card belonging to Huppenthal, police said. Levin also got a license plate number that traced back to Huppenthal, said Ramer.

“I managed to stay on my feet,” said Levin. “I’m a little shaky. He’s bigger, stronger and a lot younger than I am.”

Huppenthal said he would not comment further but that his version is much different.

Huppenthal said he went to the police department to speak with police, but he was told the investigating officer had gone home for the day.

Ramer said Huppenthal showed up sometime after 4 p.m. The officer investigating the case works a day shift and had left.

Levin said the man she now identifies as Huppenthal kept telling her that he had permission to take down the sign.

Huppenthal, who was once a member of the city council in Chandler, is running for re-election to the Senate, where he serves as one of the highest-ranking GOP members.

Levin identified Huppenthal from a photograph as the man who grabbed the sign from her.

Police are investigating the incident for disorderly conduct.

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