AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that the Election Fraud Unit of his office arrested city of Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina and his wife, Dalia, for voter fraud. Molina is charged with orchestrating an organized illegal voting scheme in his own mayoral election. The Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office will prosecute both cases with the assistance of the attorney general’s Election Fraud Unit.
Molina and his wife had numerous voters change their addresses to places they didn’t live – including the apartment complex he owns – for the express purpose of voting for Molina in the November 7, 2017, Edinburg municipal election. His vote harvesting scheme involved the participation of paid campaign workers, among others. Molina won the election, unseating long-time Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia by 1,240 votes.
Over the last year, the Election Fraud Unit has led multiple, widespread and thorough investigations into allegations and complaints of voter fraud that were formally filed with the Texas Secretary of State and forwarded to the attorney general’s office. The Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office has cooperated and assisted the Election Fraud Unit in its investigations.
“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,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Voter apathy is caused by rigged elections with guaranteed outcomes. My office will always do everything it can to protect the integrity of Texas elections and the rights of every legal voter to cast a ballot and have it counted accurately. No one is above the law.”
Attorney General Paxton expressed his appreciation for Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez’s commitment to election integrity on this case, as well as several other unrelated voter fraud cases that remain ongoing.
“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 Rodriguez said. “We encourage any additional witnesses who were pressured to engage in fraudulent voting in Molina’s election to step forward and cooperate with authorities. We’re prepared to present a full array of charges against Molina and his co-conspirators to the grand jury for a thorough evaluation of the evidence to ensure justice is served.”
Since last year, a total of 18 individuals have been arrested in connection with the Edinburg organized illegal voting scheme, with assistance from the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers.
From 2005-2017, the attorney general’s office prosecuted 97 defendants for numerous voter fraud violations. In fiscal year 2018, Attorney General Paxton’s Election Fraud Unit – with assistance from a criminal justice grant from the governor’s office – prosecuted 33 defendants for a total of 97 election fraud violations. There are currently 75 active election fraud investigations, along with 63 counts of election crimes pending prosecution, in the attorney general’s Election Fraud Unit.