The mayor of Edinburg, a border town in Texas, is being charged with orchestrating an illegal voting scheme.
Texas Tribune reported that Mayor Richard Molina has been arrested for voter fraud, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Thursday morning, the latest in a string of arrests the state’s election fraud unit has made in connection with what Paxton described as “an organized illegal voting scheme” in the November 2017 municipal election that brought Molina to power.
According to a news release from the attorney general’s office, Molina directed voters to change their addresses to places where they did not live — including an apartment complex owned by Molina — so they could vote for him.
Molina, hailed as an “anti-establishment” outsider, won the election by 1,240 votes, unseating incumbent Mayor Richard Garcia in the South Texas town.
Molina and his wife, Dalia, turned themselves in Thursday morning, according to local reports, and he received a $20,000 cash bond for three illegal voting charges, one of them a first-degree felony.
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The mayor of a Texas city near the US-Mexico border was arrested and charged Thursday with “orchestrating an organized illegal voting scheme” to win his 2017 election, the state’s attorney general said.
Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina and his wife are alleged to have had numerous voters change their addresses to places they didn’t live, including Molina’s apartment complex, so they could cast their ballot for him, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Thursday.
Molina’s party affiliation was not immediately clear. Edinburg’s mayoral election is non-partisan. Molina faces one count of engaging in organized election fraud and two counts of illegal voting. Molina’s wife, Dalia, was also arrested and charged with one count of illegal voting.
The Molinas’ alleged illegal voting scheme also enlisted paid campaign workers, Paxton said in a news release.
Eighteen individuals have been arrested since last year in connection to the scheme.
In November 2017, Molina ousted former Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia from office in the municipal election.
Molina and his wife were arraigned Thursday after turning themselves over to authorities. The two posted bond and were released later that day.
“Voter fraud is an affront to democracy and places the decision-making authority of the Texas electorate in the hands of those who have no right to make those choices,” Paxton said in a statement.
Cary Zayas, a city spokeswoman, said Molina “adamantly denies any wrongdoing,” adding that the mayor did not immediately have a statement.