State House candidate caught stealing campaign signs

Michael Gerstein
The Detroit News

Lansing — A northern Michigan state House candidate was caught stealing campaign signs from his Republican opponent and GOP 1st Congressional District candidate Jack Bergman.

Harrisville Democrat Robert Kennedy, who is running for state House District 106 in Alcona County, apologized Monday for taking the signs. He said he took them because they were too close to the highway.

A local resident caught Kennedy taking the signs supporting Bergman and his Republican opponent Sue Allor, who is also a friend of Kennedy’s, according to a Presque Isle Sheriff’s Department report filed about the incident. The witness took photos and reported the incident to the police, according to the report.

“I apologize for my actions over the weekend in removing two political yard signs that did not belong to me,” Kennedy said, reading a prepared statement on the telephone. “They were placed too close to the U.S. 23 highway. “But it is not my role to remove them. And for taking on that role, I am sorry. Before the police contacted me I had returned the sign to my opponent.”

The incident report filed Sunday said Kennedy admitted to law enforcement that he removed the signs, placed them in the trunk of the Honda Accord he was driving and later returned one of them. The report said Kennedy “is to be returning the Jack Bergman sign” as well.

“Based on my understanding of Kennedy and Allor being friends, his justification in removing her improperly placed sign and returning it to her seemed relatively reasonable,” the sheriff’s report said, also noting, however, that Kennedy “didn’t seem to have an explanation” about why he removed the Bergman sign.

Republicans blasted Kennedy over the yard sign debacle Monday.

“Robert Kennedy owes this community an apology for trying to cheat this election,” Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, said in a statement Monday. He is chairman of the state’s House Republican Campaign Committee. “The people of Northern Michigan deserve better.”

The House Republican Campaign Committee also alleges Kennedy “lied to the police by telling them Allor gave him permission to remove the signs.”

This is the second time this month Michigan Republicans have dealt with wayward sign thieves. Republican officials filed a separate complaint earlier this month with the Lansing Police Department after a woman stole a large Donald Trump presidential campaign sign outside of the Michigan Republican Party’s headquarters in Lansing.

Gideon D’Assandro, spokesman for House Speaker Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant, questioned the wisdom of potential Democrats considering campaign sign warfare before the election is over.

“It wouldn’t be smart because ... both got caught on camera,” he said.

Gideon said Sue Allor will not press charges.

Twitter: @MikeGerstein