An eighth grader has copped to vandalizing the campaign headquarters of Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), the Associated Press reports.
New York Police Department spokesperson Paul Browne told the AP on Tuesday that the teenager confessed to a guidance counselor that over the weekend he and a friend had broken a window at the Staten Island office. The teenager is expected to be charged as a juvenile with criminal mischief.
Grimm’s staff discovered the damage Sunday morning. In a statement that day, the campaign said chunks of cement and several smaller rocks were used to break three window panes. The statement also said that police believe the broken windows were “a cover-up for the burglary in which the suspect corrupted and erased the hard-drive of the campaign computer server, which contains confidential campaign files and polling data.”
Grimm, a former FBI agent, spoke with the Staten Island Advance on Sunday night and emphasized that the incident was being taken very seriously.
“You know, especially in light of what happened with Gabby Giffords, we’re not in the world today where we can shrug things off,” Grimm told the Staten Island Advance. “Violence is violence. Throwing large stones and concrete through the window is an act of violence, and we’ve got to take it seriously.”
He also released a statement, calling the incident “an assault on democracy and the political process.”
“This is a disgraceful act of cowardice that is beneath the people I represent,” Grimm said. “Here in Staten Island, we are a family community, which is why, despite our differences in opinions and political views, we have never seen an attack on a campaign escalate to this level. In 2010, campaigns across the nation were fueled with high levels of passion, yet even then we never saw anything as dirty or disgraceful as this. Even though this is not an official office, this heinous act represents an assault on democracy and the political process, more so than it does on me as person or a candidate. I do believe this is a politically motivated crime, and will continue to work closely with the NYPD in identifying and prosecuting those responsible.”
According to the AP, investigators are still examining the computer server that Grimm and his campaign allege was tampered with.
Update 4:08 p.m.: In a statement obtained by Politicker, Grimm said he is “very relieved to know this is not politically motivated.”
“It is unfortunate that these young kids would commit such an act of vandalism, yet we are very relieved to know this is not politically motivated. At the time, when we saw three large window panes broken, following a consistent pattern of lawn sign thefts and after several locations with Grimm signs and posters were barraged with eggs, it was not hard to come to any other conclusion,” Grimm said. “In addition to that, the gentleman in charge of operating the main computer system, found the computer not functioning and a new operating system installed. Again, under the circumstances, it could very easily lead one to believe that this was all connected, which is why we contacted the NYPD.”
Nevertheless, the Congressman said it is still too soon to tell what happened to the computers in the office.
“While we still do not know what happened to the computers, and are waiting for the NYPD computer crimes unit to determine the nature of the tampering, it is possible that a volunteer could have inadvertently compromised the computer and failed to report it,” he said.
Finally, he took a shot at the media coverage of the incident.
“What is most troubling about this series of events is the shameless media spin and speculation fueled by unscrupulous sources,” he said. “This is no more than another blatant attempt by the liberal media to generate more bogus allegations against me and continue their ongoing smear campaign.”
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com