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GOP trying to stop sign vandals

November 30, 1999|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Whoever helps the Washington County Republican Central Committee catch and convict the person mutilating campaign signs could receive a $500 reward.

The culprit has been targeting 4-foot-by-6-foot signs for Gov. Robert Ehrlich, U.S. Senate candidate Michael Steele and Maryland House of Delegates candidate Paul Muldowney, according to Robert Sweeney, the committee's vice chair.

"They were slashed," Sweeney said. "It looks like somebody took a box cutter to 'em."

Sweeney, the Washington County chairman of Ehrlich's campaign, said the signs cost about $125 apiece.

Of the 65 signs that the committee bought for the county, about a dozen have been damaged and ruined, he said.

Pat Heck, the chairwoman of the Washington County Democratic Central Committee, hadn't heard about the vandalism, which she denounced.

"We would never condone that," she said. "It's just very bad form. We want to win fair and square."

"Partisan politics gets pretty vicious," said N. Linn Hendershot, the Democrats' vice chairman and a Washington County commissioner candidate.

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Hendershot said someone poked a hole in his eye on one campaign sign and gave him a mustache on another.

In cases like that, "it's obviously bad kids," Heck said.

She said the Democrats have had problems with people stealing signs. In some cases, homeowner associations tried to prevent residents from putting up signs, but Maryland law allows them to stay, she said.

Sweeney said the recent rash of sign mutilation goes beyond the low-level vandalism that crops up each year.

He said a Republican sign placed near the Four Points Sheraton on Dual Highway was ruined. The committee replaced the sign four times. Each time, the replacement sign was damaged.

Other signs placed on Salem Avenue, Eastern Boulevard, Dual Highway, Sharpsburg Pike and other places have been damaged in the same way, Sweeney said.

At the intersection of Md. 68 and Mill Point Road, near Boonsboro, someone drove across a yard to destroy a sign, he said.

The Republican committee filed a report with Maryland State Police. As of Tuesday, police had no leads in the case, Investigator Mike Kretzer said.

The Republican committee is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever is responsible for the sign damage. People with information about the damage may call 301-991-5261.

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