What we know at this point is yard signs are popping up in Clark and Cowlitz counties offering $100 for information about political sign vandalism or destruction. The signs urge readers to visit the website SignThug.com to learn more.
What we apparently don't know is who's behind the effort, or what it's all about.
So far several media outlets have done some snooping. The Longview Daily News reports the signs "are the brainchild of a Tacoma man who wishes to remain anonymous," citing Woodland sign printer Tom Edwards of yardsigns.biz, the man tasked with pumping out the signs, and who received an anonymous payment to do so.
Meanwhile, KATU News reports that the SignThug.com site administrator is a dude by the name of Kyle Baxter, who's apparently based in Fife. However Baxter tells KATU that the person who hired him to set up the website, and paid him to do so, wishes to remain anonymous. It's not entirely clear whether the Longview Daily News story's "Tacoma man" is Baxter or someone else. KATU also spoke with sign-printer Edwards.
What's generally agreed upon is the signs showed up at the Clark County Republican Party Office, though folks seem unsure about what to do with them.
According to KATU:
"They've (the signs) mostly just gone down into Clark County and Cowlitz County - some as samples and some as where they purchased them," Edwards said. "They told me to give away 50 and 50 were going to be sold."
A handful of the signs ended up in the Clark County Republican Party office. They can't confirm who's behind the reward signs either.
"We're just doing nothing with them until we find out where they came from, what the agenda is of the person," said office coordinator Mary Graham.
The Longview Daily News story provides a rosier impression of the impact the anonymously funded signs are having in Cowlitz County:
Edwards says he makes signs for both parties and isn't trying to get involved in any particular race. But, he did send some to Cowlitz County Republicans because he knew Steve Rader, a GOP candidate for county commissioner, had lost several signs.
Rader said Monday that he's not sure who is offering to pay the $100 reward, but it's not him.
Despite the mystery, the signs have been popular and are being placed throughout the county. Monday afternoon Rader said he'd been at GOP headquarters about half an hour and had three different people come in and take some of the signs.
A visit to SignThug.com reveals a Wordpress blog website featuring a brass knuckles logo and the message: "Finally a resource to penalize Sign Vandals! Don't these Sign Thugs know that Purposeful damage to personal property including vandalism & graffiti is a gross misdemeanor and punishable up to 90 days to 1 year in jail with fines reaching $5,000.00!"
Here's the blog's one post so far, though clicking on "read more" (as of Tuesday night) leads back to the message mentioned above:
Some Bay County residents have put on their war paint against campaign sign vandalism. Barbara Johnson recently pointed to her 4-by-8 foot Romney/Ryan campaign sign at 611 W. 11th Street. "I don't think it was kids," she said. "I don't think most of the children walking around know what the 47 percent is." That was part of the message spray painted on her red, white and blue sign, on her property, just below the names and insignia of her candidates. "Concede ... the 47%!!!," the black paint stated. "It aggravated somebody," Johnson said. "Somebody that didn't have anything better to do."
All of this, of course, raises questions: Is this the work of a sign-funding, website-commissioning, vigilante hero? Or could the above blog post's final line also apply to the person ultimately responsible for the Northwest's latest political mystery?