Local GOP chair cries foul after Trump-Pence signs stolen, defaced

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 10:33 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) – McLennan County Republican Party Chairman Brad Holland is calling on local Democratic and civic leaders to condemn the theft and defacement of Trump-Pence campaign signs, which he says hit an “all-time high” this week.

“Several of the pricey large signs have been taken from major intersections, and daily we are getting 10 or more people come into the office to replace Trump signs that were stolen,” he said in a press release Wednesday.

“It is so sad that the level of brazen vandalism and sheer disregard for the law has reached new levels even in Waco, Texas.”

A security camera at the Woodway Public Safety Department on Estates Drive recorded grainy video of one of the sign thefts.

The thief is barely visible in the upper left corner of the frame.

Political sign theft

Over the past several weeks, several campaign signs have been stolen or defaced. A friendly reminder that theft or destruction of political campaign signs is considerd criminal mischief punishable by a fine of up to $500 and possible additional charges of criminal trespass.

Posted by Woodway Public Safety Department on Tuesday, September 15, 2020

In some cases, Holland said, Trump-Pence signs were stolen while adjacent campaign signs for Republican congressional candidate Pete Sessions and incumbent Republican State Rep. Doc Anderson were untouched.

“It’s really those signs exclusively that are being stolen or defaced,” said Holland.

The county’s Democratic party chairman said this was nothing new, and it’s been happening to them, too.

“One guy (Biden-Harris supporter) put his sign on the roof of his house, he was determined he was going to make sure that sign didn’t get stolen again," said Mary Duty.

Duty vehemently defended any accusations or assumptions about her party’s involvement.

“We didn’t do it, we don’t do that kind of thing, it’s not condoned, it’s not appropriate," said Duty. "This kind of behavior doesn’t fit the model of what a real Democrat does.”

Based on photographic evidence, Duty believes the some of the defaced signs in question were painted in an off-site location and placed in yards and reiterated her distaste for the acts.

“We stand with our protesters who are using their First Amendment right to peacefully protest problems that are in the government, but this is not it, and we certainly reject it here in McLennan County," said Duty.

Holland said they’ve already gone through 5,000 Trump-Pence 2020 signs and another 5,000 signs were delivered to Waco Wednesday, he said.

While he admitted, having such large numbers of signs inherently means there’s a greater chance some will be taken or vandalized, he says it’s gotten out of hand this election season.

“I don’t know exactly what elements in our community are doing it but they should know that it’s illegal and unconstitutional, and that’s not the way we run politics here in McLennan County," said Holland.

Several large Trump-Pence 2020 campaign signs were recovered from a wooded area near the Woodway Public Safety Department, he said.

Culprits could be charged with criminal mischief and fined as much as $500 and could also face criminal trespass charges, police said.

While they get reports like this every election cycle, Police say this year it’s becoming an everyday occurrence.

“We’ve actually had two reports today, and all through this week we’ve had a couple of reports a day of citizens reporting their signs being stolen or damaged," Asst. Chief of Woodway PSD Larry Adams said Wednesday. " In the instance the other evening, it appears the Trump signs, President Trump signs were targeted."

Detectives believe some of the signs are likely being stolen by Trump supporters who simply want them, however, they had no leads on suspects in the cases reported thus far.

Duty and Hollard agree, political disputes should be settled at the ballot box.

“These signs do cost money and take time and expense to put them up so it’s unfortunate when people do decide to do things inappropriately to take them down," said Holland. “There can be a difference of opinion, but we don’t want to see people take the law into their own hands and break the law.”

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