- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 5, 2004

A Randallstown, Md., couple has been charged with destroying Bush/Cheney ‘04 signs, police said yesterday.

Peter Lizon, 30, and Stephanie Louise Lizon, 34, of Valdivia Court, were arrested over the weekend by Howard County police during a surveillance operation along Route 40. They were observed cutting down a sign next to the road and will each face a $500 fine.

The incident is one of the most recent among numerous reports across the country about vandalism and worse connected to the Nov. 2 presidential election.

In Bearden, Tenn., an unknown gunman yesterday fired several shots into the Bush-Cheney campaign office, WBIR-TV of Knoxville reported.

A red, white and blue mailbox in Anderson Township, Ohio, with John Kerry stickers on it was damaged by somebody who drove by and smashed it with a baseball bat, WLWT News 5 in Cincinnati reported.

The arrest yesterday in Howard County was just the latest in a series of political vandalism investigations there. Police recently charged Corey Cook, 33, of Ellicott City, for stealing Bush/Cheney signs along Route 40.

In another case, Anthony McGuffin, an Ellicott City Democratic activist and former congressional candidate, told investigators that he left his upstairs study late one night last week, then returned to find a .45-caliber bullet had been fired through the window.

Mr. McGuffin, 51, ran for Congress in 2000, the state legislature in 2002 and is serving on the Howard County Democratic Central Committee.

He and his wife are not sure whether the bullet was fired into the house because they have a Kerry/Edwards sign in their front yard, but they suspect that was the case.

“I just want this election to be over,” said his wife, Abby. “Maybe everyone will recover their sanity.”

In Annandale, Brad Chittenden replaced his Bush/Cheney signs six or seven times after they were repeatedly stolen from a lot he owns next to his home. Mr. Chittenden first posted regular campaign signs, then hammered a 4-by-4 wooden post into the ground, then planted a steel beam in a concrete base, then erected a wire fence around the sign.

Only the fence has worked. After spending nearly $100 and lots of time, Mr. Chittenden’s sign has remained up for five days, he said, sparing him the expense of buying a video-surveillance system, which was his next step.

Bob Davies, a Republican supporter, had a sign stolen Saturday afternoon from the front yard of his Potomac home and said he was advised by the Republican campaign office in Rockville to put axle grease on the new one.

Officials from both political parties in the metropolitan area are blaming their opponents for the vandalism.

“It’s more an issue of Democrats than Republicans destroying the signs, though I’m sure there are some Republicans who might be out taking signs,” said Deborah Martinez, spokeswoman for the Maryland Republican Party.

She also said Democrats destroying signs “speaks a lot to how that party operates, which is based on anger and rage as opposed to sensible solutions.”

Ryan O’Doherty, spokesman for the Maryland Democratic Party, said he would “like to see some of facts” to back up the Miss Martinez’s statement.

“If they were tracking each sign that was stolen, which I doubt they have because they don’t have the resources, it’d be different,” he said.

In Beaverton, Ore., one man had his Bush/Cheney sign burned five feet from his propane tank, while in nearby Raleigh Hills, a Kerry supporter’s sign was shot, the Oregonian newspaper reported.

In Lake Oswego, Ore., another Kerry supporter had six signs stolen from his yard. He responded by pounding in 100 more, according to the paper.

The problem has forced some people to take creative measures to protect their signs.

A Bush supporter in Collinsville, Mo., chained his sign to the ground, the Belleville News-Democrat reported. In Fond du Lac, Wis., Republican officials are offering a reward for information on sign vandalism, according to the Reporter newspaper.

Democrats in Virginia make the same assertion as Republicans in Maryland about the vandalism.

“We have places all over Virginia that report either desecration of our signs or outright theft,” said Laura Bland, spokeswoman for the Virginia Democratic Party. “It’s something that is happening all over Virginia. I haven’t heard any reports of Bush campaign folks complaining about their signs being stolen or desecrated. We would never encourage people to steal people’s campaign signs. I think it’s against the law.”

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