At least two people smashed windows bearing health-care reform posters at the Colorado Democratic headquarters in Denver.
Party officials are calling it an act of political vandalism.
Nearly every window of the office on Santa Fe Drive was smashed with hammers. A very early estimate on the amount of damage caused at the office was about $10,000.
Democratic Party Chairwoman Pat Waak said she received a call from police at 2:54 a.m. Tuesday. Waak said she believes the vandalism is connected to the heated debate over health care reform.
"There is a poster up on the wall that is kind of anti-health care reform and I didn't see it yesterday, so it begs the question whether that was part of it," Waak said. "I know that tempers are really hot right now and they are being fueled. I would hope that people would take this at least as a sign that we need to have a little calmer debate about health care reform, which everyone needs right now."
Police arrested Maurice Schwenkler, 25, after they said he tried to flee on his bicycle. A second suspect escaped. Police said Schwenkler was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, a shirt covering his face, blue jeans, and latex gloves.
"I just think it's really sad that this kind of vandalism goes on for what ever reason," Waak said.
Every window at Democratic Party Headquarters was smashed Monday night.
Waak said the hammer blows were directly over posters related to health care reform and pictures of the president.
Police said an officer saw the two suspects breaking out windows with hammers.
Denver Police said they don't know what motivated the suspects. The headquarters was unoccupied at the time and there were no injuries reported.
The Denver Post reported in its Wednesday editions that Schwenkler had Democratic ties. He received $500 in November 2008 to walk door-to-door in support of Democrat Mollie Cullom, who lost her race to Republican state Rep. David Balmer of Centennial, according to The Post.
Schwenkler is not listed in the Democratic partys database of registered voters.
Balmer said he suspects the vandalism might have been intended to make the Republican Party look bad.
"This sounds like the type of Democratic tactic from the left fringe trying to make Republicans look mean-spirited," Balmer said. "In this case, it blew up in their face."
Campaign records show Schwenkler was among dozens of canvassers paid by a political committee called the Colorado Citizens' Coalition. He was also arrested on a charge of unlawful assembly while protesting outside the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul.
"This kind of hooliganism has no place in American politics. I condemn it," said Republican John Andrews, former Colorado Senate President and head of the conservative think tank, the Centennial Institute. "Beyond that, it's just idle speculation as to what might have motivated whatever slug did this. The most obvious health-related link might be alcohol impaired judgment."
Across the country, members of Congress conducting town hall meetings on health care reform have been met by protesters, some who have disrupted meetings with angry outbursts. In Arizona and New Hampshire, protesters have shown up outside President Barack Obama's appearances carrying guns, while Ohio Rep. Steve Driehaus was met by protesters in Cincinnati who were shouting his home address. He said that was a veiled threat.
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