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Mayor, councilman throw hard punches

Edinburg voter-fraud arrests… In the RGV, where some local elections lead to real fights, the City of Edinburg ranks near the top when it comes to political fireworks, vitriol; perhaps fitting since it’s the county seat where backroom deals – some proven; some not -- have been the stuff of chismé (gossip) for decades over breakfast tacos. Old-school newspaper publisher James Mathis, of the old Edinburg Daily News, used to revel in city politics. If he wasn’t ruining some politician’s day, ruffling feathers, he wasn’t having fun. The state’s ongoing criminal investigation into alleged voter-fraud conspiracy on the part of Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina, with the office of County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez prosecuting the case, only serves to underscore Edinburg’s growing rep as a city where hard-ball politics is played. The Molinas’ arrest (the mayor and his wife) this past April even made the pages of The New York Times (April 25, 2019). Molina has fought back, claiming that the DA’s aunt, former JP Mary Alice Palacios, filed a complaint with the secretary of state only after the city council voted not to renew the health insurance contract tied to her, whose loss cost her six figures ($100k-plus). “So sure,” said Molina prior to his arrest earlier this year, “she had an axe to grind. Then she has her nephew, the DA, investigate the allegations, arrest innocent people, so tell me what’s wrong with that picture? There’s no conflict of interest there?” For his part, DA Ricardo Rodriguez said earlier this year when he was still available for comment, that the Office of the Texas Attorney General had asked his office for help with the alleged Edinburg voter-fraud case, so he consented to the state’s request as a professional courtesy. If one of his family members was under investigation, he would have recused his office, he said; but such wasn’t the case in the here and now. Molina said that Rodriguez should have recused his office nonetheless since the initial complaint had “Mary Alice’s signature on it,” and Rodriguez is her nephew. To get a feel for how large this investigation has grown, consider this: two weeks ago, 15 people pleaded not guilty to voting illegally in the 2017 election. At the courthouse, authorities informed one of the 15, a woman, that she was facing a new charge: conspiracy to commit voter fraud. The city secretary has also been charged with illegal voting.

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