Vandalism Prompts Warning to Members

Posted October 25, 2008 at 3:07pm

Updated: 12:52 p.m. on Oct. 27

Capitol Police have warned Members of Congress to be on the alert after reports last week that vandals spray-painted the homes of several Minnesota Members.

In a Saturday e-mail to Members’ chiefs of staff, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer said the crimes took place in two states.

“We know already that there’s absolutely no indication that it’s either connected or perpetrated by one group,” Gainer said in an interview. “But it is unusual that it would happen to more than one Member, and most of the time in the police business those types of incidents get you thinking.”

Last week, vandals spray-painted such words as “scum” and “resign” on the homes of Minnesota Sens. Norm Coleman (R) and Amy Klobuchar (D) and Reps. Michele Bachmann (R), Keith Ellison (D), John Kline (R) and Jim Ramstad (R).

Gainer confirmed that those vandalisms are included in the department’s investigations, which are being conducted in conjunction with the FBI and local authorities.

The Capitol Police is responsible for the safety of Members and their families “no matter where they are,” Gainer said, and the FBI handles crimes against federal employees, prompting both agencies to work with local police departments to investigate the crimes. Such cooperation also helps police compare the crimes to others nationwide and determine whether they are linked, Gainer said.

In the e-mail to Members’ chiefs of staff, Gainer encouraged Members and their families “to be vigilant while in and around their homes and to report any suspicious persons or activities immediately to their local police agencies.” It also includes tips for keeping safe, such as turning on outside lights and using visible burglar alarms.

Gainer said Members should report suspicious activity to the Capitol Police after reporting it to local authorities.