Ediburg, TX mayor Richard Molina was recently arrested for organized election fraud.
Molina was charged with instructing voters to change the address of where they lived to places they did not reside in order to vote for him.
Check out what Republican Texas attorney general Ken Paxton had to say about it on Twitter:
The Texas Tribune has more:
Edinburg 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.
A total of 18 people have been arrested in connection with the scheme, according to the attorney general’s office.
The New York Times had the following to say about the illegal scheme:
The mayor of a South Texas border city was arrested Thursday on charges that he orchestrated an illegal voting scheme in which he asked residents of nearby towns to change their addresses so that they could cast votes for him.
The arrests of Richard Molina, the mayor of Edinburg, and his wife, Dalia Molina, came amid a bitter political fight in Texas over election fraud, and were made in a region with a long history of voting improprieties and public corruption scandals. The Molinas turned themselves in on Thursday morning.
Ken Paxton, the state’s Republican attorney general, whose office oversaw the investigation of Mr. Molina, has aggressively prosecuted voter fraud cases, even as a recent attempt by the state to purge noncitizens from the voter rolls was plagued by problems and inaccuracies.
Mr. Molina, 40, won the November 2017 election by 1,240 votes, and for nearly all of his tenure has been dogged by accusations of cheating. Municipal elections in Texas are nonpartisan.
Nearly 20 people have been arrested since last year in connection with the fraud case. Prosecutors said the scheme — involving Mr. Molina, his wife and paid campaign workers — was largely carried out by having numerous voters who did not live in Edinburg claim they were residents, including many who stated they lived in an apartment complex Mr. Molina owns.
According to court documents, Mr. Molina and his wife were both registered as volunteer voter registrars in the 2017 election and were authorized to help people fill out voter registration applications. Several of those with false addresses were signed by Mr. Molina and included his voter registrar number, according to the criminal complaint.
In that election, Mr. Molina, a former police officer, pulled off an upset victory by defeating the incumbent mayor, Richard Garcia, who had been mayor for 11 years and had been running for re-election.
“I feel that he didn’t steal the election away from me — he stole the election away from the community,” said Mr. Garcia, a lawyer. “The suspicions arose, when you started seeing, in checking the lists on the last days of the election, you started seeing a lot of names with the same address. There was one little house — it’s a 400- or 500-square-foot little one-room place — and there was maybe 20 people registered to that address.”
Mr. Molina has repeatedly maintained his innocence, and his supporters say the accusations against him originated with complaints from political opponents who had backed Mr. Garcia’s re-election.
Mr. Molina was charged with two felony counts of illegal voting and one felony count of engaging in organized election fraud. Ms. Molina, 42, was charged with one count of illegal voting.
USA Todayalso commented:
A Texas mayor was arrested for voter fraud for allegedly attempting to rig his own election, state Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Thursday.
Authorities charged Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina with organized election fraud, a first-degree felony, and two counts of illegal voting for allegedly making voters change their addresses to places they did not live, including an apartment complex he owned.
Molina unseated the city’s longtime mayor by about 1,200 votes in 2017. Located along the U.S.-Mexico border, Edinburg is home to headquarters for U.S. Customs and Border Protection operations in the Rio Grande Valley. The city's population is about 90,000.
City spokeswoman Cary Zayas said the mayor “very adamantly” denies wrongdoing. His wife, Dalia, was also arrested for illegal voting.
“My client and his wife are victims of a power struggle,” attorney Carlos Garcia, who represents the mayor, told The Progress Times on Thursday. “We intend to fight these charges, and both of them are absolutely innocent of what the state alleges.”
Eighteen people have been arrested for Molina's alleged scheme, according to the attorney general's office. The office declined to say whether the allegedly fraudulent votes changed the election results.
Watch this video of Molina being charged for election fraud here: