A month ago, a Republican lawmaker from New York accused critics of stealing his campaign signs. After then installing a tracker in one, Rep. Tom Reed now claims to have proof. According to Reed's campaign, a stolen sign reading "Extreme Ithaca Liberal" was traced to the home of Gary McCaslin, a retired pastor who leads a group that regularly protests against Reed, known as Citizens for a Better Southern Tier. "Is Tom Reed that desperate that he has to put little things like that inside of a sign and track it?" McCaslin tells Reed's campaign manager, Nick Weinstein, in a video. "You found the sign, I'm keeping the tracker—you call the police." Per the Ithaca Journal, McCaslin was last week charged with petit larceny, which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
"It is no surprise that our opponents are resorting to stealing our signs" and "are willing to go to criminal lengths to try and hide their 'Extreme Ithaca Liberal' agenda from the public," says Weinstein. But McCaslin's lawyer, Christina Sonsire, says her client only collected Reed's sign, along with other political signs, days after a July 2 primary election. She adds he later tried to return the tracker, but Reed's campaign refused to accept it. "There is no factual predicate to show that Gary McCaslin committed a crime." Rather, "this shines a light into just how inappropriate the political climate has become," Sonsire says. Per Ithaca.com, Democrat Tracy Mitrano, who will face Reed in November, previously admitted two unpaid volunteers took his signs "on their own volition" and were removed from her campaign. (Read more New York stories.)