RICHMOND — Phony political signs suggesting that Democrat Abigail Spanberger is running for Congress on promises to impeach President Trump and open the nation’s borders popped up in the Richmond suburbs over the weekend.
The red, white and blue placards bore Spanberger’s name and a variety of phrases, including “Impeach Trump,” “Open Borders” and “Abolish ICE.” Campaign staffers for Spanberger, who is trying to unseat Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) in the 7th District, spotted them Sunday morning in Chesterfield County and quickly pulled them down.
Spanberger, a former CIA officer who has positioned herself as a moderate as she runs in the swing district, has said she opposes open borders and the abolishment of the federal agency known as ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
As for Trump, she has said that he deserves due process and that she wants to see special counsel Robert S. Mueller III complete his investigation into whether the president’s campaign colluded with Russians who interfered in the 2016 election.
“These signs are nothing but a desperate smear tactic due to the strength of our campaign and how we are resonating with voters across the 7th District,” Spanberger spokesman Justin Jones said.
Brat spokeswoman Katey Price said the campaign had nothing to do with the signs, which did not include the disclaimer required under federal law identifying who paid for them.
“These were unauthorized campaign signs posted by an unknown third party that the Brat campaign had no knowledge of,” she said.
Calls to abolish ICE and impeach Trump have come from the left wing of the Democratic Party. But party leaders and moderates reject both ideas, saying they will turn off independent voters that Democrats need to win back the House.
Brat and Spanberger are locked in a competitive race in the 7th District, a longtime GOP stronghold where Trump is unpopular. The Cook Political Report classifies the contest as a “toss-up.”
Brat won the seat four years ago after pulling off an upset in the GOP primary, snagging the nomination from then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. But he faces stiff head winds this year, given Trump’s unpopularity in the largely suburban district and the fact that some Cantor supporters remain cool to him and that past comments angered some female constituents.
The contest drew national headlines last week after the U.S. Postal Service acknowledged it inappropriately released sensitive personal information about Spanberger, a former postal inspector, to GOP opposition researchers.
The Postal Service called the release accidental, saying an employee in a new position mistakenly handled the records request as if Spanberger had been seeking her own personnel records, instead of as a Freedom of Information request from a third party. The release included Spanberger’s Social Security number as well as her medical history and other sensitive information that the government is prohibited from disclosing under the Privacy Act of 1974.
Two members of Congress have asked for an investigation, and 200 national-security officials who served under presidents of both parties signed a letter suggesting the release had been politically motivated.