Thursday, July 30, 2015
Democratic Party boss stalls election, ‘disenfranchises voters’
After beating state Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa in court, an election law attorney says South Texas’ tide of corruption is turning. But slowly.
Dealing a double defeat to Hinojosa, a district court and appellate court voided the election of Weslaco City Commissioner Lupe Rivera. The courts found that Rivera was aided by a string of forgeries, false addresses and “flexible residencies.”
Hinojosa, who represented Rivera, argued the shady activities were business as usual in the Rio Grande Valley.
“What difference does it make where anybody sleeps? These are families in South Texas,” the former Cameron County judge and local party boss told the courts.
Jerad Najvar, who represented Rivera challenger Letty Lopez, said, “The kind of violations we proved in this case — false registrations and manipulation of mail-in ballots — are commonplace in South Texas elections. The majority of folks are sick of it.”
And getting sicker. Twenty-one months after losing the district court case, Hinojosa’s client is still in office, as Hinojosa considers appealing to the state Supreme Court.
“It’s almost unbelievable that Chairman Hinojosa would devise and execute a legal strategy that two separate courts have said disenfranchises voters,” state Republican Party Chairman Tom Mechler told Watchdog.org.
Mechler accused Hinojosa of “making a mockery out of our electoral process.”
Najvar said his client’s court victories proved that election fraud exists, and can be beaten back. “When people see that, they will start standing up,” he predicted.
“Rivera and his attorney, Gilberto Hinojosa, did everyone a favor by appealing, because we got an opinion from the Corpus Christi court of appeals reaffirming that the voting residency definition is a meaningful standard, and enforcing the ballot by mail chain of custody provisions.
“That’s a precedential opinion that applies in Cameron and Hidalgo counties, two of the places that need it the most,” Najvar said.