Patty Wetterling (born November 2, 1949) is a U.S. advocate of children's safety, particularly focused on protecting children from abduction and abuse. Her advocacy began after her son Jacob was abducted in 1989. She was a candidate for the Minnesota Sixth District seat in the United States House of Representatives as the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party candidate in 2004 and 2006, losing to Republicans Mark Kennedy and Michele Bachmann respectively.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Wetterling grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota and later moved to St. Joseph, where she raised four children with her husband Jerry. On October 22, 1989, their son Jacob, then 11 years old, was abducted at gunpoint by a masked man. An extensive search was carried out, but Jacob and the abductor have not yet been found. Four months after the abduction, the Wetterlings founded the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to child safety education. Recently, Wetterling sent a scathing letter to then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales decrying the dilution of sex offender registration laws and demanding that Congress and the Justice Department fix the flaws that their overzealousness caused. On June 18, 2007, Wetterling was interviewed on air by Minnesota Public Radio and discussed "Romeo and Juliet" offenders. Wetterling has found common ground with the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and joined them in declaring the Adam Walsh Act unconstitutional and contrary to public safety. On September 14, 2007, Wetterling reiterated her perception of the harm that current sex offender laws are causing.
In the 2004 race for U.S. Representative from Minnesota's 6th District she challenged incumbent Republican Mark Kennedy. Wetterling decided to enter the race after Stillwater lawyer Janet Robert withdrew. Wetterling received a $1,000 campaign contribution donation from U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama, one of only 3 political contributions listed for Obama that year . Kennedy won the election with 54% of the vote to Wetterling's 46%.