Staff: Theft at Ca­ballero’s Merced of­fice was ef­fort to de­rail cam­paign

Merced Sun-Star - - Front Page - BY AN­DREW KUHN akuhn@mer­ced­sun-star.com

Cam­paign staff mem­bers work­ing for Anna Ca­ballero’s bid for the Cal­i­for­nia Sen­ate say a break-in and theft at the cam­paign’s Merced of­fice re­sulted in stolen cam­paign ma­te­rial as well as com­put­ers and elec­tron­ics con­tain­ing voter in­for­ma­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Bryan King, cam­paign man­ager for Sen­ate Democrats, about 9,500 door hang­ers in­form­ing peo­ple where and how to vote had been stolen from the West Main Street of­fice.

Ad­di­tion­ally, ev­ery lap­top was taken from the of­fice as well as de­vices used to scan voter data and per­sonal items such as cell phones used to call vot­ers, ac­cord­ing to King.

“They also ripped out our in­ter­net mo­dem so we’re to­tally off­line right now,” King said. Work­ers were at the of­fice stag­ing and pre­par­ing for elec­tion day get-out-the-vote op­er­a­tions un­til about 1:30 a.m. Tues­day morn­ing.

Merced Po­lice Lt. Alan Ward said of­fi­cers were called to the scene around 7 a.m. Tues­day. In­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve some­one en­tered the of­fice through the back and stole “elec­tron­ics and cam­paign ma­te­ri­als.” Ward said in­ves­ti­ga­tors will be check­ing with busi­nesses in the area for any se­cu­rity-cam­era footage that may be use­ful to po­lice.

In a brief news re­lease Tues­day, Merced po­lice said about $24,000 in prop­erty was stolen and ac­knowl­edged hav­ing “no cur­rent sus­pects in the case.”

Fred­die Quin­tana, field direc­tor at the Merced of­fice, said he was work­ing un­til about 2 a.m. and ev­ery­thing was quiet. Quin­tana said an­other staffer swung by the area around 3:30 a.m. and didn’t no­tice any­thing sus­pi­cious.

“I hate to be cyn­i­cal, but I think it speaks to the state of pol­i­tics here — that peo­ple would go to this means and this far to try and take down a lo­cal cam­paign is un­for­tu­nate,” said King.

Rob Poythress, a Madera

County Su­per­vi­sor and Ca­ballero’s op­po­nent seek­ing elec­tion to the Cal­i­for­nia state Sen­ate District 12, re­leased a state­ment con­demn­ing the bur­glary.

“There is no place for this kind of be­hav­ior in pol­i­tics or in our com­mu­nity. Cam­paigns should be run and won on the is­sues and the hard work of can­di­dates as de­ter­mined by the vot­ers,” Poythress said.

King said that the of­fice has been in close con­tact with the Ca­ballero cam­paign while try­ing to get back on track and fo­cus on what is im­por­tant, which is mak­ing sure peo­ple vote.

Ca­ballero for Sen­ate Cam­paign Man­ager Ken Smith called the sit­u­a­tion “un­for­tu­nate” and re­leased a state­ment ad­dress­ing the al­leged break-in and theft at the Merced of­fice.

“It is clear the break-in and sub­se­quent bur­glary of Assem­bly­mem­ber Ca­ballero’s Merced cam­paign of­fice was con­ducted by a per­son or per­sons who have a vested in­ter­est in try­ing to limit our cam­paign’s con­tact with vot­ers on Elec­tion Day,” Smith said.

Smith said the break-in and theft will not stop the cam­paign from stay­ing in con­tact with vot­ers. “We do re­al­ize that this is a se­ri­ous felony.”

Smith re­ferred to the theft of the elec­tron­ics as a sig­nif­i­cant loss of se­cu­rity for vot­ers. “I hope the po­lice find out even­tu­ally who did this,” he said. Smith said the cam­paign has faith in the vot­ers.

“Ms. Ca­ballero will not be de­terred. She knows vot­ers can and will see this felony for what it is: a last des­per­ate at­tempt to sub­vert not just the vot­ers will, but our democ­racy it­self”, Smith said.

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion is asked to con­tact Merced po­lice at 209-3857773 or 209-385-4725. Tips are con­fi­den­tial and call­ers may re­main anony­mous.

AN­DREW KUHN akuhn@mer­ced­sun-star.com

The Ca­ballero for Sen­ate cam­paign of­fice at 658 W. Main St. in Merced was bro­ken into, re­sult­ing in stolen lit­er­a­ture and elec­tron­ics.

AN­DREW KUHN Merced Sun-Star

Staff mem­bers say a bur­glar stole the in­ter­net mo­dem from Ca­ballero for Sen­ate cam­paign head­quar­ters.

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