Ward 5 political sign-stealing caught on tape?
This campaign season, there's been no shortage of political sign-stealing allegations. On Sunday, one instance seems to have been caught on video.
This much all parties agree on: Kathy Henderson, a former advisory neighborhood commissioner living in Kingman Park, came into the Capital City Diner on Bladensburg Road NE on Sunday afternoon and began talking to patrons about a house she was selling nearby. After that, she had a conversation with diner owner Matt Ashburn about politics. And then -- as documented on surveillance video posted Monday on the Frozen Tropics blog -- Henderson removed signs for council members Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) and Kwame Brown (D-At Large) and replaced them with a sign for Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.
Henderson has an explanation: "He asked me to do it," she said Monday, claiming that she and Ashburn had had an extended conversation that included him giving her permission to take down the signs.
Ashburn said he was trying to ease Henderson out of his restaurant, where she was bothering his customers with her real estate pitch. They started talking politics, and Ashburn said that Henderson, who is challenging Thomas as an independent, tried to convince him to remove his Thomas signs. Ashburn said he refused, noting that Thomas had been a heavy supporter of his business, before having to end the conversation to tend to customers.
"I in no way encouraged her to remove the signs. There is nothing I would have said, in my opinion, that any reasonable person could have taken as permission to remove those signs," he said Monday, adding, "The caveat here is 'any reasonable person.' "
Henderson and Ashburn are calling each other liars, natch, with Henderson accusing Asburn of orchestrating an "act of sabotage" by luring her to steal the signs to catch her on video and accuse her of theft. "Who steals campaign signs in the middle of the day while wearing three-inch heels?" she asked.
Ashburn called that accusation "crazy" and noted that Henderson tried to block his business from setting up shop last year.
The allegations are now in the hands of police. After he saw Henderson walk off with the signs, Ashburn called the Thomas campaign to ask for replacements. They in turn called the cops, noting that Henderson took a large vinyl Thomas banner worth about $250.
Thomas said Monday that he'd be pressing charges. "This is just indicative of how she performs, and it's finally been caught on tape," he said.
Henderson said she welcomes the inquiry, claiming that said tape will clear her: "I will be asking that [Ashburn] provide the totality of that video and not just snippets."
September 6, 2010; 5:21 PM ET
Categories: DCision 2010 , The District
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