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Friday, October 01, 2004 - Page updated at 03:50 P.M.

Bush's state headquarters for re-election burglarized

By David Postman and Ashley Bach
Seattle Times reporters

KEN LAMBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES
A rock was thrown through the window of the Washington state headquarters for the president's re-election campaign.
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The Washington state headquarters for the president's re-election campaign was broken into last night, and police are investigating the theft of three computers from the Bellevue office.

Missing are laptop computers used by the campaign's executive director, the head of the get-out-the-vote effort and one that had been set for delivery to the campaign's Southwest Washington field director, said Jon Seaton, executive director of the state's George W. Bush campaign.

Seaton said data on the computers was backed up and available elsewhere. But, he said, the loss creates a potential security breach about the campaign's so-called 72-hour plan, the Bush get-out-the-vote effort.

"Obviously there's some stuff there we wouldn't want our opposition getting their hands on," Seaton said.

The campaign has spoken about the importance of the 72-hour plan in swing states across the country. Bush campaign officials say it could make the difference in a close election if Republicans are able to make sure their voters get to a polling place on election day and don't sit home as many did four years ago.

Seaton was the first one in the office this morning. He did not notice the break-in until he walked into his office and saw a rock and broken glass on the floor.

A side window of the office on 112-th Ave. N.E. had been smashed.

KEN LAMBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Jon Seaton, executive director of the state's George W. Bush campaign, stands over a rock that was thrown through his office window.
Seaton said this morning that the campaign staff was still checking to see if anything else had been stolen.

The break-in happened sometime between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m., said Bellevue Police Officer Jessamyn Poling, a department spokeswoman. With burglaries in general, thieves can sometimes steal everything in a room or they can take just one or two items, Poling said.

"It just has to do with if they got spooked or if someone was driving by," Poling said.

She said police had no other reports of commercial burglary last night, though she said break ins are not uncommon in the downtown business area. The headquarters is a small ground-level office in a non-descript business park in the 2100 block of 112th Avenue Northeast. The only identification is a small, gold sign on an outer door that reads, "Bush-Cheney" in plain letters.

A plain location helps the campaign focus on its work without worrying about protesters or hecklers, said Leah Yoon, a state campaign spokeswoman. Inside Seaton's office, which he shares with another staffer, broken glass sat next to Toby Keith and rap CDs, a bag of Doritos and water bottles. The wires from the stolen laptops still hung out the large hole in the window.

State Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance called it a "Watergate-style break in" and said he suspects Democrats are behind it.

"If you're just some burglar looking for computers to sell to buy drugs you take every laptop in the office maybe," he said. "But they knew exactly whose computers to get. They got the executive director's computer and the get-out-the-vote director's computer."

State Democratic Party spokeswoman Kirstin Brost said Democrats had nothing to do with the break-in.

"I feel really bad. I know how upset I'd be if it happened to us," she said.

"There was nothing for us to gain by stealing those computers," she said. "Their secret plan isn't so secret."

Vance said the break in follows reports of vandalized Bush campaign signs and what he said were telephone calls to voters alleging Bush would reinstate a military draft if re-elected.

"To me there is some scary stuff going on from liberal radicals whose Bush hatred is out of control," Vance said.

David Postman: 360-943-9882 or dpostman@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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