Intra-party political spat? Campaign signs keep disappearing

Intra-party political spat? Campaign signs keep disappearing

VANCOUVER, Wash. – One group in Vancouver is claiming it is being hit hard by vandals and thieves taking down and destroying their campaign signs.

The PCO Liberty Alliance is a new grassroots conservative group in Clark County that wants to reform the local Republican Party. They suspect a lot of the sign stealing is being done by people on their side of the political fence.

The group set up a video to catch those responsible, but it didn't quite work.

In the video a bicyclist pulls up and takes down a PCO Liberty Alliance campaign sign, which was one of many that disappeared.

"We've had three candidates with a total of 15 signs removed in that immediate area," said Christian Berrigan who set up the sign sting. "And they were always removed within 24 hours. So we knew this was a good place to stake out and put up a camera and catch 'em in the act."

His sting did capture a bicyclist stopping and taking one of the group's signs. But it was perfectly legal, police said, because the sign was on public property and not where political signs were supposed to be.

But a member of the PCO Liberty Alliance followed the cyclist while videotaping. The conversation that was recorded was anything but politically correct. The group member asked the cyclist if its candidate was "too conservative. Maybe the establishment doesn't like her? Is that why?" The cyclist responds with a blast of profanities.

"He certainly had an opportunity to say that sign didn't belong there or something like that," Berrigan said. "But he seems to be like a guy on a self-appointed mission of some kind."

Or at least the group thinks someone is. They've found bunches of other legally posted signs stashed away, usually just theirs, but often replaced with other Republican Party signs.

For group members it's about breaking the law and, even more importantly, it's about free speech.

"If they have a problem with someone's ideas, then the proper way to deal with it is to put out ideas of their own, not to try and subvert or to silence other people," Berrigan said.

The general rule about political signs is they have to be on private property with the permission of the property owner. If someone takes down a legal sign, that person could get as much as a $5,000 fine and a year in jail.