The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Arrest made in break-in of Ariz. Democratic governor candidate Hobbs’s campaign office

Arizona Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs speaks to reporters before dropping off her primary election ballot July 21 in Scottsdale, Ariz. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)
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Phoenix police said Thursday they have arrested a suspect in a break-in at the campaign office of Arizona Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs earlier this week. The incident set off implicit accusations against her Republican rival Kari Lake — a charge the former television news presenter scoffed at as “absurd.”

Authorities identified the suspect as 36-year-old Daniel Mota Dos Reis, who had been arrested earlier in the day and was in jail for an unrelated commercial burglary. According to a police statement, an officer recognized Dos Reis in security footage from the burglary at Hobbs’s office near Virginia Avenue and Central Avenue.

Dos Reis has been rearrested and booked on one count of third-degree burglary. It was not immediately clear whether Dos Reis has a lawyer.

The police report said an Apple computer mouse, Apple keyboard and a black Nikon camera were taken during the burglary.

Hobbs, Arizona’s secretary of state, and Lake have been engaged in a bitter campaign for governor, and polls have shown the two locked in a tight race. Lake, who was endorsed by Donald Trump, has embraced and spread the former president’s false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Trump and his allies, including Lake, have especially questioned the results in Arizona, where Joe Biden narrowly defeated him — the first time a Democrat took the state since 1996.

Phoenix police said they responded to a burglary call at Hobbs’s campaign office on Tuesday afternoon. In surveillance images obtained from the Hobbs campaign by The Washington Post, a young man wearing shorts and a green T-shirt can be seen inside the building.

“Secretary Hobbs and her staff have faced hundreds of death threats and threats of violence over the course of this campaign. Throughout this race, we have been clear that the safety of our staff and of the Secretary is our number one priority,” Hobbs campaign manager Nicole DeMont said in a statement late Wednesday.

“Let’s be clear: for nearly two years Kari Lake and her allies have been spreading dangerous misinformation and inciting threats against anyone they see fit,” DeMont added. “The threats against Arizonans attempting to exercise their constitutional rights and their attacks on elected officials are the direct result of a concerted campaign of lies and intimidation.”

Lake told CNN on Wednesday that the Hobbs campaign’s statement was “absolutely absurd.”

“And are you guys buying that? Are you really buying that? Because this sounds like a Jussie Smollett part two,” Lake told CNN, referring to the actor who was found guilty of falsely reporting a hate crime. “She’s trying to deflect from her own abysmal campaign and the fact that you know, nobody even knows where her campaign office is.”

After the suspect was identified Thursday, Lake accused Hobbs of spreading the “defamatory” story and blamed the news media of “running with bogus stories” and “trying to influence the election.”

The Hobbs campaign thanked police for a quick arrest and said, “Let me be clear, Kari Lake’s preposterous allegation that this break-in was staged is unfounded and her refusal to condemn the threats that have become common in our politics continues to stoke chaos.”

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As secretary of state, Hobbs defended the election process in Arizona as the person in charge of certifying Biden’s victory in 2020. She has called Lake a threat to democracy and earlier this month referred an incident of alleged voter intimidation to the U.S. Justice Department and the Arizona attorney general.

“There’s a group of people hanging out near the ballot dropbox filming and photographing my wife and I as we approached the dropbox and accusing us of being a mule,” said the report, which was written by a voter in the Phoenix suburbs and obtained by The Post. “They took … photographs of our license plate and of us and then followed us out the parking lot in one of their cars continuing to film.”

While Hobbs has defended the use of drop boxes as a safe and secure way to ensure ballot access, Lake has encouraged doubts and expressed support for citizen surveillance.

In July, Lake posted on Twitter a photo of a drop box she said was in northern Arizona. “Potential Mules beware: we are watching drop boxes throughout the state,” she said. “Smile … you might be on camera!”

Yvonne Wingett Sanchez contributed to this report.

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