Embattled Athens County, Ohio Democratic Chairwoman Susan Gwinn was indicted Monday on two counts of election-related bribery, special prosecutors announced today.
Gwinn, who last month was charged with six felonies for campaign finance crimes and money-laundering, became the subject of a voter fraud investigation after an email from College Democrats Vice President Kellie Galan surfaced in which students were promised a cash bounty for every voter brought to the polls.
“Remember, if you bring a friend from 4th ward they are more then [sic] a friend, they’re 5 bucks!” Galan wrote to fellow College Democrats in the email.
Athens’ 4th Ward featured a hotly contested city council race between College Democrat-endorsed incumbent Christine Fahl and Republican challenger Randy Morris. Fahl defeated Morris by a slim 30 vote margin.
Athens GOP County Chair Pete Couladis demanded an investigation after news of the email broke, telling reporters “maybe the College Democrats received a stimulus check to help get people to vote.”
“If money was being paid or offered by the College Democrats to college students or anyone else to vote, this is a serious violation of Ohio’s elections laws,” said Couladis.
Athens County Prosecutor Dave Warren, a Democrat, said at the time the investigation was launched, “I think it smells like the Democrats are trying to buy an election.”
The evidence overwhelmingly suggests as much, and also suggests College Democrats played a central role in this crime.
According to Ohio’s bribery statutes concerning voting, “advance, pay, or cause to be paid or procure or offer to procure money or other valuable thing to or for the use of another, with the intent that it be part thereof shall be used to induce such person to vote or refrain from voting” is illegal.
Presently, no members of the College Democrats have been indicted in the vote bounty scheme, likely attributable to the logistical and public relations nightmare in trying dozens of co-eds with voter fraud.