CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Hamilton County Demo Chairman Tim Burke has ruled out Watergate mastermind Richard Nixon, but adds that Cincinnati police consider the break-in last week at party headquarters a "serious crime." Burke said he has not been given detailed information about possible suspects from investigators, and that he doesn't yet know if the computer and robo-caller stolen last week were taken for political reasons, or to fence on the street. Burke said the cops tried to lift fingerprints and have an active criminal investigation under way.
Officials said there were other files and equipment in the office that did not seem to be touched, including material that belonged to Democratic County Commissioner David Pepper and Cincinnati City Councilman Cecil Thomas. He said the burglars grabbed a computer from a back room. Burke, who put the value of the lost equipment near $3,000, disclosed the incident was the second break-in at Demo headquarters in about a year.
"This one is a serious break-in. But it's a little early in the investigation to know why it happened. We don't have any answers. We have questions. But what the motivation was, we just don't know. Was it political? I can't answer except to say it's serious when a political headquarters gets hit."
Burke said the computer contained campaign records belonging to Democratic City Council candidate Brian Garry, who is endorsed by the party and the AFL-CIO. He said Garry suffered a major setback with the loss of the data and is scrambling to recover.
"For a campaign that doesn't have the money that some others do --- well, it's going to be difficult for him to make up the loss, or catch up. It's a little early in the season, so maybe he can. For Brian it's really a problem because he lost a lot of campaign material."
WCPO-TV, Channel 9 did a story about the break-in over the holiday weekend, and there was a lot of discussion about the incident Monday during the AFL-CIO's Labor Day picnic. At this point, nobody is sure if it was a political black bag job, a dirty trick, or a simple crime. The headquarters is in a city neighborhood called Pleasant Ridge, a residential community that is considered safe and relatively crime free.