Texas Attorney General Office says the mayor organized a scheme to have voters change their addresses so they could cast ballots for him. Edinburg is a city of about 90,000 people and is the headquarters of Border Patrol operations in the Rio Grande Valley.
The mayor of Edinburg, Texas, and his wife surrendered to law enforcement Thursday in connection with voter fraud charges
On Thursday morning, Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina and his wife, Dalia, walked into a local Texas Department of Public Safety building to face charges for an “illegal voting scheme” occurring in the 2017 mayoral election, according to Texas Attorney General Office.
A news release summarizes allegations that Molina and his wife “had numerous voters” change their residential addresses into the jurisdiction–including the apartment complex he owns–for the express purpose of voting for Molina in the November 7, 2017, election. The “vote harvesting” scheme, as the AG office describes it, involved the participation of paid campaign workers. Molina won the election by 1,240 votes, unseating long-time incumbent Richard Garcia.
According to Dave Hendricks from the Progress Times, Molina is facing a charge enacted in 2017: “A person commits an offense if, with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a vote harvesting organization, the person commits or conspires to commit one or more offenses,” according to the Texas Penal Code.
There has been a total of 18 other arrests in connection with the 2017 Edinburg city election. These arrests were part of an ongoing investigation into an alleged coordinated effort by political workers to recruit people to fraudulently claim residential addresses in other jurisdictions. One of the individuals accused of illegally voting in that election included a previously convicted human smuggler.
Edinburg is part of the Rio Grande Valley, a region with a long history of voter fraud allegations and convictions including the 2012 primary election in Donna, where various individuals were convicted of using cocaine and marijuana to buy votes, Breitbart News reported at the time.
The Rio Grande Valley area also made national news before the 2018 election when the Public Interest Legal Foundation released a complaint to county and state officers regarding “altered” voter registration forms circulated by the Texas Democratic Party that were directed to noncitizen residents. The applications featured pre-printed claims of U.S. citizenship. The Texas Secretary of State referred the matter to the Texas Attorney General’s Election Fraud Unit.
It is ironic that the Texas Attorney General has an Election Fraud Unit. Ken Paxton has spent most of his time as Texas Attorney General under felony indictment and has engaged in extraordinary legal maneuvers to delay judgement before a jury. If ultimately found guilty of the charges against him, Paxton could be sentenced to serve time in the state penitentiary. Ken Paxton appears to be the ONLY current statewide office-holder in the country serving while under felony indictment.
“My office is appreciative of the many witnesses who have come forward and cooperated with the investigation, explaining how they were lured by an ambitious candidate into participating in an illegal voting scheme to elect Richard Molina,” District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez said.
The Texas fraud unit is expected to assist Hidalgo County prosecutors in the Molina case.