Elections

Caballero’s Merced office burglarized. An effort to ‘take down’ campaign, staff says

Caballero’s Merced office burglarized

Staff at the Caballero for Senate Merced office say campaign literature as well as computers containing voter information was stolen during a burglary in Merced, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.
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Staff at the Caballero for Senate Merced office say campaign literature as well as computers containing voter information was stolen during a burglary in Merced, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.

Campaign staffers 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. today. 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.

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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 209-385-7773 or 209-385-4725. Tips are confidential and callers may remain anonymous.

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