Dan Bongino, a former U.S. Secret Service agent and a Maryland Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, told The Daily Caller that cars belonging to his pregnant wife and three of his staffers were vandalized — and he’s convinced it was a politically motivated attack.
Bongino was participating in the Maryland GOP convention in Annapolis this past weekend, and on Friday night, he said, vandals spiked three of his staffers’ cars’ tires with nails.
“There were three cars in three different areas of the parking lot — very distinct, different areas of the parking lot,” Bongino told TheDC in a phone interview. “They had no identification on them at all, they were the only cars that were vandalized, and the way the nails were put in the tires there’s no way anybody ran over them. What happened was there were nails in the front and the rear tires on the same passenger side of the car.”
Bongino said there were more than 700 vehicles at the event, and because the vandalism was specific to just his staffers’ cars, Bongino is certain that his political opponents planned and launched the attack.
“What I think, from 17 years in law enforcement, is someone watched the three cars that were parked, watching my staff go back and forth unloading campaign materials,” he said. “They saw the cars and then they waited until the end of the night and then did the damage to the cars. They clearly knew it was us — there’s no doubt about that in my mind.”
Bongino’s wife, who is seven-months pregnant, was the victim of what now appears to be a connected act of vandalism. “My wife’s car was [vandalized] a week ago — or a week and a half ago,” Bongino said. “That’s what’s really starting to bother me — that could have been an accident, although where the nail was placed, it seemed awfully odd. I thought it could have been an accident so we never really proceeded with following up on it.”
“Then, this, [after what happened] at the [GOP convention] event, there was no question, it was targeted, politically based criminality,” Bongino adds. “I mean, it was a crime what they did.”
Maryland hasn’t sent a Republican to the U.S. Senate since Mac Mathias left in early 1987. “That’s a very long time ago,” Bongino said.
Since he is a Republican who appears to have a shot at unseating Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin, Bongino told TheDC he thinks these attacks on his staffers’ and wife’s cars indicate “that someone is starting to realize that this is a very serious campaign that could do some damage to the one-party monopoly here in Maryland.”
Bongino left the U.S. Secret Service, where he protected President Barack Obama, to run for Senate. He said attacks and acts of vandalism like this won’t scare him out of the Senate race. “I’ll tell you what: If they think they’re intimidating me, they’re out of their minds,” Bongino told TheDC. “I spent 12 years travelling around the world with the Secret Service. I’m the last guy to do a Secret Service advance in an active war zone with the president’s life in my hands. If they think for a second that they’re going to put a few nails in my cars and we’re going to leave the race or be intimidated, they only serve the complete opposite purpose, which was to further solidify in my mind why I did the right thing by leaving the job to run for office here.”
Bongino won’t name names about who he suspects committed the acts of vandalism, but he doubts Cardin is personally behind it.
“I would be speculating at that point, but I know this: I know it was definitely directed at us, at our specific campaign, and obviously by our opponents, not our supporters,” Bongino said. “Who that was, who specifically that was — whether an outside group or someone else — I have a hard time believing Senator Cardin himself instructed anyone to do it. But there’s no question some group that does not share our campaign’s values targeted our vehicles. There’s no question about it.”
Cardin’s campaign director, Shelly Hettleman, told TheDC that violence and vandalism are unacceptable.
“I can state unequivocally that there is no place for vandalism in a political campaign,” Hettleman said in an email. “Violence of any kind is inexcusable and should not be tolerated.”
Bongino’s campaign has filed police reports with the Anne Arundel County Police Department. A spokesman for the police department hasn’t immediately returned TheDC’s request for comment or more information.