Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm is calling vandalism and the erasure of computer drives at his Republican campaign headquarters over the weekend a "politically motivated" crime.
"Whoever did this, the people responsible are very ignorant, and they don't understand that this is not just an attack against me or my campaign," Grimm, a freshman, told the Staten Island Advance. "This is an attack against a federal campaign office, which is an attack on our democracy as a whole. It's an attack against what we stand for, for free elections."
Grimm, who is the target of a federal investigation involving campaign fundraising, is running for reelection against Democrat Matt Murphy. A Murphy spokesman condemned the break-in.
Grimm said he believes the break-in is part of a pattern, which he tied to the thefts of lawn signs and a recent mysterious computer shutdown in the middle of the night.
"In fact, one officer said to me today they see this as a crime against the government, because I am a sitting United States congressman and they take it 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 said. "Violence is violence. Throwing large stones and concrete through the window is an act of violence, and we've got to take it seriously."
Linux, an open-source operating system, was installed on Grimm's computers, erasing the hard drive contents, which included polling and voter identification data. But staff had backed up the hard drive contents hours beforehand. Grimm and his staffers said the vandalism -- cement blocks were thrown through the office's windows -- is a cover-up for the attacks on the computers.
Police sources told the New York Daily News there was no sign of forced entry at Grimm's headquarters, and said the case is being investigated as an act of criminal mischief, not a burglary.