Sign Shenanigans in Ward 5

By Kriston Capps
|  Monday, Sep 6, 2010  |  Updated 12:55 PM EDT
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Sign Shenanigans in Ward 5

Matt Ashburn

Ward 5 advocate Kathy Henderson is seen replacing Harry Thomas Jr. and Kwame Brown signs with an Adrian Fenty campaign sign.

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Kathy Henderson does not dispute that she was caught in broad daylight on security camera video removing campaign signs for incumbent Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. and Council Chair candidate Kwame Brown outside the Capital City Diner and replacing them with signs for Mayor Adrian Fenty. The stills -- circulated via Twitter and the popular Northeast neighborhood blog Frozen Tropics by the diner's owner, Matt Ashburn -- show that clearly enough.

But the Ward 5 advocate denies that she was stealing anything. She says she was asked to take down the signs.

"I'm very disappointed," said Henderson, a former ANC 5B10 commissioner and a would-be Democratic candidate for the Ward 5 Council seat. "Matt asked me to remove the posters and replaced them with Fenty signs. He was trying to get Fenty to come visit."

Henderson accused Ashburn of "deception."

But while Ashburn acknowledged that Henderson asked him to remove the signs and replace them with Fenty signs, he said he told her no way.

"She stopped by the diner. She came in and started handing out flyers for a house she is trying to sell down the street," he said. The two had a conversation about the signs, but he explained that he supported Thomas, Brown and Gray -- and not Fenty.

Did he ask her to put up a Fenty sign? Ashburn is clear: "Good God, no!"

Stills from the security video -- the full sequence of which may be seen at Frozen Tropics -- show plainly that Henderson removed two campaign signs for Harry Thomas and one sign for Brown outside the Capital City Diner at 1050 Bladensburg NE. In their place, she installed one Fenty sign. The video is timestamped and datestamped: September 5, at about 4:20 p.m.

Ashburn contacted the Thomas campaign to ask for replacement signs. The Thomas campaign filed a complaint with the Metropolitan Police Department, according to Victoria Leonard, director of strategic communications for the Ward 5 Councilmember.

"[Councilmember Thomas] knowingly filed a false police report," Henderson said in response.

Henderson responded to Ashburn's tweets and forwards with a message that she posted to various listservs and neighborhood groups. In that message, she said that she "felt sorry for [Ashburn]" and said that he "used this deception as a photo opportunity."

She did not speculate in that message or over the telephone as to reasons why Ashburn would set her up, except to say that he is deceitful. In her email message, however, she aired speculations about his business.

Henderson is not on the ballot for the Democratic ballot for Ward 5. Her status on the Democratic primary ballot was challenged, and the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics removed her from the ballot. She is now running as an Independent candidate for Ward 5.

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