Who Really Won?

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Another Third Rate Burglary

Thieves targeted the Ohio Democratic Party Headquarters this week, stealing a computer and a high-tech communications gadget belonging to party chairman Denny White.

Police said yesterday one or more burglars appeared to have climbed a wall Monday and crawled through an unlocked second-story window overnight at the party headquarters about three blocks from the Statehouse.

The break-in occurs at a time when the Ohio Republican Party is threatened by one of the largest scandals to hit the state’s government in decades.

Some Democrats also say the break-in is eerily similar to a burglary at the Lucas County Democratic Party Headquarters last fall, in which three computers were stolen.

Police, though, said it is unclear if the theft had anything to do with politics, or the investigations into investments at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

“Until we find the person, there’s no way of knowing that,” said Sherry Mercurio, a police spokesman, who said investigators lifted fingerprints at the scene.

Yesterday, posters celebrating John Glenn’s accomplishments still hung on the walls of the headquarters, a portable stereo sat on a desk, and a few Sony Vaio desktop computers with flat panel monitors remained untouched.

The items belonging to Mr. White were a Dell computer valued at $800, a flat-screen monitor valued at $250, and a $250 BlackBerry communications device.

The break-in occurred a week after the Ohio Democratic Party began airing a 30-second TV ad that links Republican office-holders with the state’s failed $50 million rare-coin investment with Tom Noe.

Lawyers for Mr. Noe, a Republican fund-raiser, have told authorities that about $13 million in assets are missing from the coin fund.

Jason Mauk, a spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party, said the state GOP had nothing to do with the break-in.

“I certainly hope the implication is that this was not politically motivated,” Mr. Mauk said. “I can guarantee from our perspective that this is not the case.”

He added, “It sounds to me like Mayor [Michael] Coleman has a crime problem that they need to address.”

There were two other burglaries nearby on Monday night, both at restaurants.

In one case, someone smashed a window of a restaurant and stole $150 in property.

In another, someone used a piece of concrete to shatter a rear glass door of a restaurant, police said.

Dan Trevas, a spokesman for Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, said every crime is taken seriously by police, and the burglary will be investigated.

Sandy Isenberg, who was chairman of the Lucas County Democratic Party at the time of the break-in, said yesterday the latest burglary “sounds more and more like dirty tricks.”

“It’s no different than our break-in, through a window, [they] took three very important computers, and left everything else,” she said. “Come on — How strange is that? I find it extremely peculiar and suspicious.”

The former Lucas County commissioner said the computers nabbed in last fall’s break-in contained “loads and loads of information that could be used in many different ways.”

“I lived through the Nixon era and I’m living through this convoluted mess right now,” she said.

“And it would seem to me that the Republicans will stop at nothing to further their cause. That’s unfortunate because there are many Republicans out there who would and do find this situation that the state of Ohio is in abhorrent of their beliefs and values.”