ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A former Republican candidate for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District is being accused of slashing the tires on his opponent’s vehicles.
Albuquerque police arrested Gary Smith at his home Friday evening. According to court records, the 65-year-old Army veteran is facing a charge of criminal damage to property for allegedly slashing the tires of two vehicles outside Janice Arnold-Jones’ home.
Arnold-Jones had turned over home surveillance video to police that showed a man slashing her tires on Dec. 20. Police say they were able to verify it was Smith.
Smith told Albuquerque television station KOB-TV (http://bit.ly/Ut2PHk) on Friday that he didn’t know why he was being arrested and that he didn’t slash Arnold-Jones’ tires.
In April, a lawsuit filed by Arnold-Jones’ supporters resulted in Smith getting knocked off the GOP primary ballot. Arnold-Jones went on to be defeated in the general election.
Arnold-Jones said she had put up the surveillance cameras outside her home in hopes of finding out who had been vandalizing her vehicles. Since the beginning of December, she reported spending thousands of dollars to replace and repair vandalized tires.
Arnold-Jones said the vandalism caused her and her family to worry about their safety.
“This is not politics,” she said. “I know what it’s like when there is political retribution. You lose your bills, you lose your office, you lose your parking space. That’s none of this. This is an assault on my private property on our residence and I believe it’s by someone who is not very stable.”
Police said they believe Smith may also be responsible for slashing the tires of other Republicans who participated in the pre-primary lawsuit.