NEW: Who is vandalizing the large campaign signs in Royal Palm Beach?

March 07, 2018
These images show damage to campaign signs supporting Mayor Fred Pinto and Group 3 candidate Sam Roman in Royal Palm Beach. In both cases, the damage was reported to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. (Provided)

Someone seems to be targeting two candidates’ campaign signs in Royal Palm Beach.

The question is who?

Nearly a dozen signs for Mayor Fred Pinto and Group 3 candidate Sam Roman have been vandalized, their campaign consultant said this week.

“There is a real problem with the large campaign signs being destroyed,” said Richard Giorgio, whose firm Patriot Games represents both Pinto and Roman. “The signs were cut, chopped, broken, smashed.”

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On March 13, Pinto faces former councilwoman Martha Webster for the mayor’s seat, while Sam Roman is challenging Councilwoman Selena Smith for her seat on the dais.

The destruction started in early February when one of Pinto’s signs in front of the Dunkin Donuts building at 1301 Royal Palm Beach Blvd. was “taken out of the ground and thrown into nearby bushes” in a report filed with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Giorgio replaced the sign Feb. 11, but it was damaged again two days later. Giorgio once more replaced it, he said.

Another of Pinto’s signs in front of a multi-family home in the 100 block of Sparrow Drive was damaged but not knocked down, with the plastic campaign sign “cut with an unknown sharp object,” the report states.

“All of these signs were on private property with permission,” Giorgio said.

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A second report was filed with PBSO on Sunday by the property manager for the Royal Plaza on the northeast corner of Royal Palm Beach and Southern boulevards. Two campaign signs — one for Pinto and one for Roman — were on the ground.

“The two signs were undamaged and remained attached to the wooden post,” the report states. “At this time its (sic) unknown if the two signs were willfully or maliciously detached from the lawn.”

Both reports noted surveillance video did not reveal any of the areas where the signs were damaged.

Each sign costs about $75, and each candidate has had to replace four or five signs, Giorgio said.

Both Smith and Webster deny any involvement, adding that some of their campaign signs have been removed, though they use smaller, 18-inch-by-24-inch yard signs that are easier to lift.

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Webster, who has run for office several times in the past decade, said it is not unusual to lose some signs. She said in a past campaign, one of her supporters caught people using them “as Frisbees in the middle of the road.”

“That’s just the way it is,” she said. “I’m not very upset about it. It just happens.”

Smith said some of her signs in the past have been run over by bicyclists while others have been removed from private property where she had permission to place them.

Giorgio said that in his nearly 23-year career he has seen a lot of damaged campaign signs, and occasionally someone is caught in the act. He recalled one person arrested for pulling up campaign signs because “he just didn’t like campaign signs in general.”

“It’s a pain in the neck,” Giorgio said of having to replace the massive signs, which require digging new holes and sinking posts. “It’s a chore and a messy job.”

The Feb. 16 PBSO report states the case is considered inactive pending new leads. The incident reported Sunday was documented as a suspicious incident.