Money for votes?

Story by Chris Graham

A complaint has been filed with the Waynesboro registrar’s office regarding the placement of fliers on vehicles parked outside a Waynesboro business Thursday night that apparently offered cash and prizes for votes.

City registrar Mary Alice Downs told The Augusta Free Press this morning that the fliers – sponsored by the Waynesboro-based American Property Owners Association – appear to violate state election laws by offering a chance at cash prizes, free gas and grocery-shopping sprees to Waynesboro residents who stop by the registered political-action committee’s office and say that they are voting for city-council candidates Reo Hatfield and Pat Steele in next week’s general elections.

Downs said today that a formal complaint had been filed by an unnamed candidate. A Virginia State Board of Elections official confirmed to the AFP that Downs has been in contact with the Richmond office regarding the matter.

The state board has advised Downs to hand the matter over to the Waynesboro Commonwealth’s attorney office.

Commonwealth’s attorney Chuck Ajemian told the AFP late this morning that he had not yet heard from Downs or the state board regarding anything in the way of a formal complaint.

The fliers in question were placed on vehicles parked in the lot outside T-Bone Jacks, a local steakhouse, according to a published report. They advise those reading that they can “Vote Hatfield & Steele and Win! Win! Win!’

Hatfield and Steele disavowed any connection to the fliers or the American Property Owners Association or its president, George Hartsook, in interviews with The News Virginian for a story published in its Friday-morning edition.

The American Property Owners Association registered with the State Board of Elections in January. Where it gets its financial support is unclear – the association failed to file its first quarterly finance report with the state board that was due April 17.

A board official confirmed to the AFP that the association faces a possible $100 fine for its failure to file the report by the deadline.


(Published 04-28-06)

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