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Edinburg Voter Fraud Investigation: A One-Sided Affair?

Editors’ note: This post was originally published 9/8/18 on the Najvar Law Firm Facebook page. We are cross-posting it here, and will do so for all future posts on this topic. This situation deserves to be documented in a way that is permanently available and more easily accessible than Facebook allows. Posts will be tagged so you can easily find all posts on the topic.

[Nov. 9, 2018.]  This week, the Texas Rangers have arrested more than ten additional people in their investigation of allegations of voter fraud in Edinburg, which began after the Nov 2017 Edinburg elections. (See linked article.) But the picture is more interesting than those arrests in isolation.

The initial arrests came after a criminal complaint that, although Hidalgo County DA Ricardo Rodriguez wouldn’t admit it at first, was filed by his own aunt, Mary Alice Palacios. Mary Alice Palacios lost a lucrative contract with Edinburg after Richard Molina and his slate took over in 2017. There was a flurry of arrests in May 2018, which we now know was in response to Palacios’s complaints. But at the time, Rodriguez would not say who complained, although he was apparently happy to tell The Monitor that his office received the complaint and began the investigation before state law enforcement became involved. The additional arrests this week seem to be targeting the same group of persons, who were supporting the challengers to the Palacios regime in Edinburg. (And that 2017 election was devastating to the Palacios clan, even aside from Mary Alice’s contract cancelation: Molina took out Richard Garcia as mayor, who was and is partners in Terry Palacios’s law firm; J.R. Betencourt declined to run for re-election early on, after vocal allegations of conflicts of interest by Molina; Molina’s slate won a solid majority, flipping control of the City; Ricky Palacios immediately resigned as City Attorney; and Molina also represented a direct threat to Terry Palacios’s role as long-time muni judge, because Molina promised to seek voter approval to change the position to an appointed position with term limits.)

Of course, investigators should do a full and fair investigation of any credible allegations. But if that is the principle, then it is puzzling why the criminal complaints filed by Molina’s supporters, in response to those filed by Palacios, appear to have disappeared into a black hole. At least for now.

I requested records from Rodriguez’s office in October, seeking documents that would reflect (1) when Rodriguez received any complaints from Mary Alice Palacios or anyone else that triggered the initial investigation; (2) whether he has recused himself from any such investigations sparked by his own aunt’s complaints, and (3) documents showing that his office did, in fact, receive the complaints filed later by Molina supporters against Palacios-team supporters, and how he processed/forwarded those to any state authorities. Rodriguez has claimed that he forwarded them, but it’s unclear if he did so, or if so, when. Also, if he did forward them on, I would be interested in knowing if he made the state law enforcement agencies aware of how those complaints implicated some of his own family members, and therefore that his office should be considered to have a conflict of interest.

This story may take a while to play out. But it promises to get much more interesting.

Rodriguez is fighting disclosure of the documents I’ve requested, so today I filed this letter with the Texas AG’s Open Records opinion committee:…/…/20181109-letter-to-AG-Op-Cmte.pdf