Danielle Stella of Minneapolis made a splash this month as a vocal challenger for Ilhan Omar’s congressional seat.
The self-described "special ed professional" from Minneapolis posted lengthy threads on Twitter, accusing Omar of “increase[ing] crime in Minneapolis” and “laugh[ing] and smile[ing] about evil acts,” which got support from the far-right. But she also posted a suggestive hashtag evoking the far-right conspiracy group, QAnon, prompting people to question her philosophies.
She didn’t respond to interview requests, but the internet scuffle that followed also churned up some alleged patchiness in Stella’s past.
It turns out that Stella – under a former surname – has been arrested twice this year on allegations she shoplifted $2,300 worth of stuff from a suburban Target in January, plus $40 worth of stuff from a grocery store in April, according to the Guardian newspaper.
A complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court says Stella told police she remembered arriving at the Target to do some shopping, but “nothing else” due to post-traumatic stress disorder. (She has publicly stated that she was the victim of a violent assault in 2008.) She allegedly explained that she “normally goes to Target with someone because of anxiety around people.”
In April, a warrant was issued for her arrest for allegedly failing to show up for a court hearing. Bloomington officers arrested her later that month after she was spotted stealing a bottle of tick spray for cats at a Cub Foods – among other “cat merchandise” and cat food she was putting “under her purse so that they could not be seen.”
Stella wasn’t immediately available for comment, but she told the Guardian in a series of text messages that she “was not guilty of these crimes.”
“In this country I am innocent until proven guilty and that is the law,” she said, adding: “If I was guilty of crimes, I would never run for public office, putting myself in the public eye under a microscope to be attacked by all political sides.”
After the Guardian article was published, she called reporter Jon Swaine a “fraud” and tweeted that what he wrote was “garbage, unethical, outright lies.” All of the “death threats” and “hate messages” she was getting as a result, she tweeted, were his fault.
“You repeatedly called, texted with threats about posting a smear article,” she added. “Which you then proceeded to do. You are an #EnemyOfThePeople.” She also tweeted that Swaine had threatened to dox her.
But Stella seemed to rally a few hours later, saying the “hate & effort to derail [her] campaign” had motivated her “more than ever.”
“Now I know, more than ever, the #FakeNews media and twitter trolls are really scared of losing their terrorist-supporting representative (Omar.)”
She’s been charged with felony theft, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000.