Frank Eaton, Democratic candidate for the House District 27 seat, charged Saturday that House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick pulled up two of his campaign signs. Rep. Floyd said the signs were illegally placed "and I was doing the guy a favor."
Mr. Eaton is not running against Rep. McCormick, but against Richard Floyd.
Rep. McCormick said he is a partial owner of a shopping center on Highway 153 and his company manages it. He said he spotted three signs in front of the center, including two Eaton signs and a treecutter signs.
Rep. McCormick said the signs were on the right-of-way, where he said they are not to be posted.
He said he called the treecutter and told him he had laid the sign down and he could come get it. He said he then called Rep. Floyd to see if he had the phone number for Mr. Eaton. He said, "At that time Mr. Eaton and a lady jumped out and started taking pictures."
Rep. McCormick, :"I was not stealing the signs in broad daylight of a candidate who has no chance to win."
Mr. Eaton said, 'My wife and I noticed someone walking on Highway 153 with one of my campaign signs. I pulled into the parking lot at Academy Sports to ask him why he was removing my signs. He had taken another one up by then.
"I asked his name and he told me he was Gerald McCormick, one of the owners of the property. I then introduced myself and asked what he was doing with the signs. He said he had called my opponent, Richard Floyd, and left a message asking how to get in touch with me. I informed him that my website was on the signs he removed and was holding in his hand. He said, 'I don't have internet in my car, okay?' He said the signs had been on his private property and he was removing them. I questioned whether the property was his, and then he said the signs were not allowed in the 'right of way' of that road. 'I've been at this a lot longer than you have,' he said. I showed him the stakes still in the ground from larger campaign signs used by candidates in the primary and asked if he had seen the signs there in July for the primary election. He said he didn't remember seeing any and that his partner Oscar Brock must have been working then.
"I asked if he knew exactly where his property ends and the public property begins and he stated he did not. I asked if it was his statement that he had removed my signs from a public road without knowing whether they were on his private property or not. He became visibly angry and said, 'Are you a lawyer? Is this a cross-examination?' He also said, 'I don't give a sh*t what you do. If you want to turn this into a fight, that's your choice. I guess I've given you a reason.'
"He said that he thought his property didn't begin for several feet further from the road than my signs had been. He said he did not know whether it was legal for me to place my signs there or not, and that if I found out that it was, I was welcome to put them back where they were. I asked several times if he had removed the signs without knowing whether they had been on his property or not, and he became angry each time I asked the question."
He said a video of Rep. McCormick in his convertible "was shot after he had given me the signs back and had called Richard Floyd again to ask if he would send him the voicemail message McCormick had left earlier. You can hear me ask if he explained to my opponent why he took my campaign signs. I don't know why he thought notifying my opponent about removing my signs from a public place made any reasonable difference."