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Candidate charged with defacing campaign signs: 'I did it all' - abc27 WHTM

Candidate charged with defacing campaign signs: 'I did it all'

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Harrisburg mayoral candidate Lewis Butts Jr. has admitted to defacing his opponent's campaign signs.

"I did it all," Butts said. "Politics is a dirty business. I apologize. I'm sorry for going to those lengths to prove a point and I apologize, but in each camp there's dirty laundry that's being done. This is just a confession to show my part of the dirt that's going in each and everyone's campaign."

Butts spoke with abc27 on Monday after Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico announced that he had charged Butts with criminal mischief and conspiracy for defacing campaign signs promoting candidate Eric Papenfuse. The misdemeanor charges carry a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

Papenfuse called the situation unfortunate and said he would continue to focus on the campaign.

The primary election is Tuesday. Both Butts and Papenfuse are vying for the Democratic nomination in Harrisburg's mayoral primary. Incumbent Linda Thompson and City Controller Dan Miller are also running.

Marsico said they are still looking for someone who assisted Butts in defacing the signs. However, Butts said he worked alone and was only helped by friends who drove him.

"They just helped pick me up and drop me off, but I did most of the stuff on foot because I'm a very athletic and healthy guy and I usually carry the burdens of my own," he said.

Butts said he plans to continue campaigning and will not drop out of the race.

"Why would I withdrawal at the 12th hour?" Butts said. "I don't give up. Papenfuse gives up. I never did give up ... Twelve horses couldn't drag me away from understanding the impact of what I do and what I say and the plan that I set into motion for my people. That would be a stunt that Papenfuse would do."

Butts said he's glad he had the opportunity to "run and clear my dirty laundry and confess."

Marsico said Butts indicated that defacing Papenfuse's campaign signs was an act of frustration.

Butts said he was upset that some of his 100 yard signs were stolen and replaced with Papenfuse signs.

He said he was also frustrated that the first City Council debate was held at the bookstore Papenfuse owns, The Midtown Scholar. He said this was unethical.

Butts also said Papenfuse broke the city and cultural codes by taking money from donors on the West Shore.

"[Butts] was somewhat frustrated, I believe, at the way the campaign was going. He felt somewhat, I believe, out-gunned, out-monied," Marsico said.

Marsico said a taxi driver witnessed Butts and another man use black spray paint to vandalize several Papenfuse campaign signs last weekend. Papenfuse said the damage cost his campaign $2,100. 

Marsico said the men were driving a car that was registered to Butt's sister when the vandalism took place.

Court documents show Butts has previously been found guilty of several traffic violations. Between 2005 and 2013, Butts was found guilty four times for driving on a suspended license and one time for driving without a license.

On May 13, Butts was found guilty of driving without a license and providing false identification to law enforcement. He will begin a 60-day prison term on June 20.

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