Forbes' N.Y. campaign office appears to have been burglarized PC disks found scattered

fax machine is missing


NEW YORK -- The New York campaign headquarters of Steve Forbes, the millionaire Republican presidential candidate, apparently was broken into yesterday, police said.

Gretchen Morgenson, a spokeswoman for the Forbes campaign, said that computers in the office were turned on and disks were riffled through.

It was unclear if disks containing vital information or other documents were missing, she said.

Police said that a fax machine had been taken.

Investigators said they found several fingerprints inside the campaign office at the sixth floor of the Hotel Pennsylvania in midtown Manhattan and were trying to determine whether the prints were those of people with access to the room.

Campaigning in Washington, Mr. Forbes played down the incident and called it "a regrettable fact of urban life."

Mr. Forbes, the son of the late publishing magnate Malcolm Forbes, opened the New York office in the Albany Room of the hotel, at 15 Penn Plaza, just over a week ago.

He is paying for several hundred petition carriers to gather the more than 30,000 signatures needed in a furious effort to get on the New York primary ballot, scheduled for March 7.

The door to the campaign office was found open at about 8 a.m. when five staff members came to work, police said.

The workers found that a small fax machine was missing and that computer disks were scattered about.

Police said that there were no signs of a forced entry but that the lock could have been picked.

Mr. Forbes, 48, has spent $7 million of his own money to finance his quest for the presidency, and he plans to spend $1 million on the New York primary.

He is in an uphill battle to get on the Republican ballot.

The state party's rules, considered to be the nation's most restrictive, require presidential candidates to obtain 1,250 signatures in 25 of the state's 31 congressional districts and a smaller number in six districts with small Republican enrollment.

A relative latecomer who entered the Republican primary race nine weeks ago, Mr. Forbes has bombarded several key states with television and radio advertisements in an effort to catch up in the field of six major candidates.

In New Hampshire and Iowa, the first primary and caucus states, respectively, most polls put him ahead of some contestants or have him even with every other Republican candidates except Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, the front-runner.

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