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Vandals threaten Minnesota politicians

ST. PAUL - Vandals have threatened at least six Minnesota members of Congress by painting graffiti such as "resign or else" on their property.

Both U.S. senators and four representatives Wednesday reported vandalism on their homes or garages around the Twin Cities.

"U R A criminal resign or else!" was written on the outside of Sen. Norm Coleman's garage. "Scum" and "Psalm 2" also were painted on the building.

Vandals painted "scum" in mostly white paint on Rep. Michele Bachmann's white garage. "Resign now," "say no to the bailout" and "read Psalm 2" were painted on the asphalt driveway.

Authorities said property of Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minneapolis and Reps. Bachmann of Stillwater, Keith Ellison of Minneapolis, John Kline of Lakeville and Jim Ramstad of Minnetonka also was vandalized. All the vandalism was similar, in many cases using the same phrases.

The vandals did not discriminate. Victims are Muslim, Christian and Jewish; conservative and liberal; white and black; Democrat and Republican.

All the victims are running for re-election other than Ramstad, who is retiring, and Klobuchar, who has four years left on her term.

The reference to Psalm 2 was a constant in most of the vandalism. The Bible book's second and third verses say, in the King James Version: "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, 'Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.'"

Stillwater police officer John Siebenaler said he thought the vandalism was connected, but probably done by different people.

"We will do extra patrol in the area," he said, echoing statements from law enforcement officers in the other affected communities.

Coleman called it "vile graffiti" while campaigning at Wadena's Cozy Theatre.

"What happened at my home today is a reflection of the anger out there," Coleman said. He often uses the term "anger" when talking about Democratic opponent Al Franken.

"I thought, 'how sad.' The tone is so negative and so divisive," added Coleman, who has removed his negative commercials from television. "We don't need so much anger. You don't need to hate the person across the aisle from you."

A Klobuchar spokesman said vandals painted her Minneapolis house with slogans similar to those elsewhere, the first time that has happened as senator or when she was Hennepin County attorney.

"I'm confident the police will fully investigate these incidents," Klobuchar said. "When so many homes are vandalized on the same night, I'm hopeful there will be some good leads. Vandalism to any home is unacceptable."

Bachmann and her husband, Marcus, have been trying to sell the home that was vandalized. It is in a nice area on the far northern edge of the city.

U.S. representatives who live in rural areas - Collin Peterson of Detroit Lakes, Jim Oberstar of Chisholm and Tim Walz of Mankato - reported no vandalism occurred.

Local police investigated each incident. Siebenaler said he had no plans to coordinate his investigation with other departments.

A U.S. Capitol police spokeswoman confirmed that her agency is working with local officials on the vandalism reports, but would not comment further. State law enforcement officials are not involved.

Coleman's campaign opponents decried the act.

"Political candidates subject themselves to a lot, but attacks against homes and family members are absolutely inappropriate," said Dean Barkley of the Independence Party. "I wish Sen. Coleman well and hope this kind of trash isn't repeated against him or any other candidate for office."

Franken's communications director condemned the action.

"There's no place for this unacceptable behavior in our political process, or in our communities," Andy Barr said.

Steve Schultz of the Wadena Pioneer Journal and Andy Blenkush of the Stillwater Courier contributed to this story.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.