A United States of America politician, Justin Hurst, is to face criminal charges for allegedly paying $10 to solicit votes from the electorate in Tuesday’s municipal election.
Mr Hurst, who is the Springfield mayoral candidate, was linked to a man in video footage – handling cash to people outside City Hall, last week Saturday.
Although the American politician was not captured handing out the money he was seen in the footage driving his personal car in a row of vehicles dropping off – then also picking up – voters who collected $10 bills minutes later.
Mr Hurst is a long-time city councillor and an attorney.
City officials claimed in a sworn affidavit that the “distribution of the $10 bills” clearly visible in the building in the surveillance footage represented fraud.
The Republican independently reviewed the video footage obtained through a public records request.
The high-definition video shows a man identified as Gilfrey T. Gregory, peeling off bills for voters outside City Hall.
The Republican also interviewed a man who confirmed that he was paid $10 to vote for Hurst.
In a sworn statement, the officials noted that voters were required to present “I Voted Early” stickers to get the money.
The City solicitor, John Payne, has called for a criminal investigation into the alleged fraud case
Mr Payne has asked the Hampden District Attorney’s office to launch the investigation.
The solicitor said he was made aware of the weekend incident when an official from the city elections office was asked for payments by a series of previously unregistered voters.
“It is extremely troubling. This is a fraud upon the elections process,” Mr Payne, a retired District Court judge, said during an interview Tuesday.
“Before I became a judge, I was active in elections for 30 years, and I’ve never heard of anyone being paid for a vote. It is very serious.”
Mr Hurst faces incumbent Mayor Domenic J. Sarno in an election on Tuesday.
He was the first runner-up in a five-way preliminary election in September. Election officials could not comment beyond their affidavit.
Mr Hurst has flatly denied that anyone in his campaign paid for votes, accusing Mr Sarno’s administration of dirty politics in the waning days of the election season.
“Is this the best they got? Any accusations that my team paid residents in exchange for their votes are unequivocally false and nothing more than an attempt by Mayor Sarno to spread fake news to influence the election.
“Mayor Sarno is trying to steal the election and is using the same paper that endorsed his candidacy to do it,” Mr Hurst said.
He, however, could not explain why cash was exchanged outside City Hall at the weekend.
“We don’t pay for votes. We don’t need to. Period. And any suggestion that we have is an insult to this campaign and an insult to the voters,” Mr Hurst added.