$1,000 Reward for the
Arrest & Conviction of Vandal!
Five of the destroyed signs were found along a roughly 11-mile stretch of U.S. 29 stretching from Lovingston, northward to near the road’s intersection with Virginia 779 (Mosby Lane). A sixth vandalized sign in the county was found further south in Colleen, near U.S. 29’s intersection with Virginia 56 West (Tye Brook Highway).The signs were paid for and owned by the Hurt for Congress campaign, but members of the local committee dedicated their own time, labor and expenses to install the signs, which Ballowe said are made of a plastic material that under normal circumstances is “virtually indestructible.”
Each sign takes about three volunteers to put up. Installing seven or eight signs takes an entire day, Ballowe said.
The group reached out to Nelson County’s Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Jerry Gress, and Ballowe said he was told the only charges that can be brought against the culprit are for vandalism.
However, Ballowe is looking into whether federal charges apply to the case.
“We understand, but are still researching,” he said. “…Unless the individual voluntarily comes forward and is genuinely contrite, we will prosecute to the full extent of the law.”
“If you violate anyone’s rights to free speech, you violate everyone’s.” Ballowe said.
Ballowe said he is convinced the same person or group of people were involved in destroying all six signs. Hurt’s signs were placed next to Ed Gillespie signs that were left untouched.
Five of the signs were similarly cut using a box cutter that removed parts of the name “Hurt” or “U.S. Congress.” On one of the signs, the first three letters in Hurt’s name were painted over with black spray paint, making them illegible.
“We are very surprised,” Ballowe said. “I’ve been involved in local politics for over 30 years and never known this to happen so it leads me to believe there is some new dynamic that came into play in this cycle. The pipeline is a new dynamic, but it’s not fair to point that finger because we don’t have any evidence to support that.”
The group is hoping to raise the amount offered in the reward and believes someone will come forth eventually.
“I’m pretty optimistic, especially if we get other people to participate,” he said. “I think that there is a better than even chance that we will find out who did it.”
Nelson County Times, Thursday, November 13, 2014 , Reported by Rachael Smith
Hurt signs in Albemarle County were also vandalized. Rob Manch interviewed Committee Chairperson, Cindi Burket and featured it on the WVIR, NBC 29, November 2, 2014, 6:00 PM newscast.