Arizona Republicans: 16,000 campaign signs destroyed or defaced so far this election season

Posted at 7:33 PM, Nov 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-04 22:33:40-04

The Arizona Republican Party is raising concerns after 16,000 political campaign signs have been defaced, destroyed, and vandalized so far this election.

Chairman Robert Graham said his office is replacing to up 1,000 Trump/Pence signs a day, throughout the state. He called the acts of vandalism very personal, as the thieves and vandals were actually getting on to private property in many cases.

"In northern Phoenix we had a home in a nice gated community vandalized. This man had a Trump sign out in his yard. A neighbor actually spray painted 666 and Trump on his garage door," said Graham.

He called the act absurd.

"We have other people that have picked up fallen signs to re-post them and they're getting some weird gooey substance on their fingers. By the time they get to the car they have rashes up to the elbow and can't get the stuff off," added Graham.

In Tucson, someone had cut the phone lines to the Republican campaign headquarters--bringing down the entire communication system. It was one of their busiest call centers, said Graham.

"It's beyond personal. This is what I would call political terror. They are making people feel uncomfortable for posting what they support. They are interfering with the First Amendment," said Graham.

A GOP volunteer stuffing mailers told ABC15 he had been targeted by these vandals. Some scrawled the words "Hitler" and "Germany" on his Trump-Pence sign.

Richard Hackney said he felt very violated by the act.

Most of the signs that have been defaced or destroyed belonged to Republican candidates: presidential nominee Donald Trump and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

ABC15 reached out to the Arizona Democratic Party to see if they too were seeing similar acts of vandalism and theft.

 A spokesman said they had seen a few people walk in to complain about stolen Hillary Clinton signs, but nothing to the extent reported by their Republican counterparts.

The spokesman declined our request for an interview, saying talking about the damaged signs appeared to be a political stunt by the Republicans to get attention.

Graham said all voters should be outraged by these acts, regardless of political affiliation.

"This is the American way. It's freedom of expression, and freedom of voting. This is the most aggressive opposition we've ever had in the destruction of our signs. It's by far the most aggressive and violent," said Graham.

Stealing or vandalizing political signs is felony in some cases. You could be charged with trespassing and theft. Fines could range up to $700 and you could also go to jail for up to 4 years. If you are convicted of a felony in this case, you could lose also your right to vote.

"Is it really worth it?  Becoming a felon and losing your right to vote forever, just to steal a campaign sign?"  said Graham.