FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A judge, school superintendent and county clerk in southeastern Kentucky have been indicted on charges they extorted money from political candidates so they could bribe voters in a scheme to rig several elections, authorities said Thursday.
The U.S. Attorney’s office said charges include racketeering, bribery, extortion and voter fraud against Clay County Circuit Court Judge Russell Cletus Maricle, school superintendent Douglas C. Adams, Clay County Clerk Freddy Thompson and others.
The investigation began after voting irregularities were reported during the 2006 elections. A statement from the federal prosecutor’s office claims the officials tried to rig federal, state and local elections in 2002, 2004 and 2006 in Clay County, about 170 miles southeast of Louisville.
Prosecutors claim a group led by Maricle and Adams, who were essentially “political bosses,” recruited a slate of candidates to run for certain offices and then tried to rig elections in their favor. They also tried to recruit members of the local elections board so they might avoid an investigation.
It was unclear how much money was involved in the alleged scheme, and exactly how long it may have been going on.
According to the indictment, Democratic election commissioner Charles Wayne Jones and election officer William E. Stivers helped extort money from candidates. In some cases, candidates were apparently asked to pool money so votes could be bought.
Thompson, the county clerk, allegedly provided money for election officers to buy votes. Thompson also told election officers how to change votes at the machines, according to the indictment.
Some voters were bribed at the voting booths. Some officials told voters to use booths incorrectly, so that they could go back and change the tallies, the indictment says.
William and Debra Morris are also charged as associates who helped dish out money to buy votes.
- Clay County Circuit Court Judge Russell Cletus Maricle, 65, and school superintendent Douglas C. Adams, 57, allegedly used their status in the county to influence the appointment of corrupt members to the Clay County Board of Election Officials and caused election officers to commit acts of extortion, mail fraud, and bribery. Maricle also allegedly instructed a witness to testify falsely before a federal grand jury in Lexington.
- Clay County Clerk, Freddy Thompson, 45, allegedly provided money to election officers to be distributed by the officers to buy votes and he also instructed officers how to change votes at the voting machine. The indictment also accused Thompson of a false testimony before a grand jury in Lexington.
- Election officer William E. Stivers, 56, allegedly marked votes or issued tickets to voters who had sold their votes and changed votes at the voting machine. Stivers also allegedly instructed a witness to testify falsely before a federal grand jury.
- Paul E. Bishop, 60, allegedly marked voters or issued tickets to voters who sold their votes and he also hosted alleged meetings at his home where money was pooled together by candidates and distributed to election officers, including himself. He was also accused of instructing the officers how to change votes at the voting machine.
- William B. Morris, 66, and Debra L. Morris, 49, distributed funds pooled by the members of the scheme in order to buy votes. The couple owned and operated a transportation sanitation company and was active in the political affairs of Clay County.
WYMT has a video report.
As per the AP article, at least one Democrat was involved in this scheme, and he allegedly played a major role. With that in mind, I’ve only seen a couple of comments from the “Republicans are stealing the elections!!!” crowd so far. Come to think of it, we haven’t heard much from them on the “stolen elections issue” since the Dems started winning again back in 2006.
In any event, in reading up a bit on Clay County, I see it looks to be a pretty solidly GOP county in terms of voter registration, so it will be interesting to see if those involved were mostly Dems trying to get a leg up on the competition or if it was a “bipartisan” effort to rig elections and make some $$ in the process. Either way, if these people are guilty, they each should be given the max sentence allowed by law. There is no place for this kind of BS anywhere anytime.
Stay tuned …