Attorney General’s Office investigating voter fraud complaint in Agua SUD election

The Texas Attorney General’s Office is investigating a complaint about illegal voting during the Agua Special Utility District election.

Eric Sanchez — a Mission businessman who ran against utility board Director Cesar Rodriguez Jr. — filed the complaint in April.

Seal of Texas Attorney General.svgRodriguez’s relatives voted using his address, according to Hidalgo County Elections Department records. Sanchez filed a complaint, accusing them of breaking the law.

“It was a shock to all of us,” Sanchez said.
Rodriguez won the election, beating Sanchez by just three votes. He didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“I’m not going to let it go,” Sanchez said, adding that Rodriguez’s relatives put him over the top. “I was cheated.”

The Secretary of State’s Office referred the complaint to the Attorney General’s Office on May 30.

“The complainant alleges that six people voted from the same residence and two people lived at that residence,” according to a copy of the letter, which Sanchez provided to the Progress Times.

A fifth person voted after Sanchez filed the complaint, bringing the total to seven.

When the Secretary of State’s Office refers a complaint to the Attorney General’s Office for investigation, the person who filed the complaint receives a copy of the referral letter. Texas law, though, makes the letter otherwise confidential.

Neither the Attorney General’s Office nor the Secretary of State’s Office would comment on the letter.

However, in response to a public information request, the Attorney General’s Office argued that releasing the letter would interfere with a criminal investigation.

The letter “pertains to an active criminal investigation being conducted by the OAG’s Criminal Investigations Division,” according to the Attorney General’s Office.
Illegal voting is a second-degree felony punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

In Mission, every vote mattered during the utility district election.

Rodriguez won the 2014 campaign by a single vote, according to Elections Department records. Just 11 people cast ballots that year.

When he ran for re-election, Rodriguez faced a serious challenge from Sanchez.

Both men live on West 30th Street in Mission. They ran a relatively friendly race until April, when Sanchez discovered that seven people had registered to vote from Rodriguez’s address.

Along with Rodriguez and his wife, five relatives listed his 1,900-square-foot home as their residence, according to Elections Department records:

> Andrez Rodriguez, 29, updated his voter registration on March 28, according to the Elections Department. Public records list a previous address for Andrez Rodriguez in Round Rock.

He voted on April 23 at Mission City Hall.

> Guadalupe V. Trevino, 62, updated his voter registration on March 22, according to the Elections Department. Public records list a previous address for Guadalupe Trevino on Esther Street in Mission, where he received a homestead exemption.

He voted on April 23 at Mission City Hall.

> Ricardo Trevino, 21, updated his voter registration on March 22, according to the Elections Department. Public records list the same home on Esther Street as a previous address for Ricardo Trevino.

He voted on April 23 at Mission City Hall.

> Cecilia Flores, 59, updated her voter registration on March 28, according to the Elections Department. Public records list a previous address for Cecilia Flores on West “F” Street in Mission.

She voted on April 23 at Mission City Hall.

> Karina Rodriguez, 40, updated her voter registration on March 22, according to the Elections Department. Public records list the same home on West “F” Street as a previous address for Karina Rodriguez.

She voted on May 5 at Mission High School.

When asked in April whether or not they actually lived with him, Cesar Rodriguez declined to comment.

Sanchez said he hopes the investigation will deter voter fraud in western Hidalgo County.

“And let the actual people make the decisions,” Sanchez said. “Not the candidates.”

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