Once again confirming checks, balances, and transparency - not trust - as the bedrock of democracy...
By Ellen Theisen on 8/21/2009, 12:01pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ellen Theisen, VotersUnite.Org

Rebecca Vigil-Giron, who oversaw New Mexico elections for ten years, was indicted last Wednesday on 50 counts including fraud or embezzlement, money laundering, tax fraud, tax evasion, illegal kickbacks, tampering with evidence, and conspiracy.

Like last year's indictment of 13-year Monterey County, CA, Registrar of Voters, Tony Anchundo on 43 criminal counts, and last March's indictment of six Clay County, KY election officials [corrected from "KS"] for changing votes at voting machines and showing others how to do it, Vigil-Giron's indictment reminds us that democracy thrives on checks, balances, and transparency --- and is threatened by conditions that force us to trust in election officials.

Ion Sancho, Leon County Supervisor of Elections in Florida, and Freddie Oakley, Yolo County Registrar-Clerk in California understand that threats to elections come from the insiders. They warn us --- in their speeches and writings --- not to trust election officials. Vigil-Giron's indictment warns us in a more sensational way...

In "Prosecutors allege the theft of millions of dollars," Heath Haussamen writes that Vigil-Giron was indicted by a grand jury along with three others:

The others indicted are lobbyists Joseph Kupfer and Elizabeth Kupfer and Armando Gutierrez, who headed the company Vigil-Giron hired to help the state implement a federal voter education program.

Joseph Kupfer was a lobbyist for the secretary of state. Elizabeth Kupfer, his wife, was the administrative services director for the Attorney General’s Office at the time in question.
Vigil-Giron used federal funds to pay Gutierrez’s firm $6.3 million for advertising and voter education work leading up to the 2006 election. The federal audit found that the company can’t account for how more than $2 million of that money was spent.

Haussamen summarizes the indictment:

The 50 counts against each include:

• Four counts of fraud over $20,000 or, in the alternative, embezzlement over $20,000.

• 11 counts of money laundering over $100,000.

• Five counts of money laundering over $20,000.

• Eight counts of tax fraud.

• 13 counts of tax evasion.

• Four counts of making or permitting false public vouchers.

• One count of soliciting or receiving an illegal kickback.

• One count of offering or paying an illegal kickback.

• Two counts of tampering with evidence.

• One count of conspiracy.

Meanwhile Vigil-Giron continues working at the state Department of Workforce Solutions as a constituent liaison for the department’s labor and industrial division, because, according to Deputy Secretary Ken Ortiz, the indictment was for actions that are unrelated to her work with the department.

Read the indictment here.

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