Thursday, July 5, 2007

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Former East Texas Senator Indicted on Charge Linked to 2006 Election

CARTHAGE – A Panola County grand jury charged former State Sen. Drew Nixon, 47, with illegally committing acts of official oppression prior to the 2006 local election. The two-count indictment, which was unsealed today, stems from an investigation by the office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Earlier this year, officers with the Texas Attorney General’s office began investigating several pre-election irregularities involving the May 2006 Panola County Fresh Water Supply District No. 1 board member elections. At the time the irregularities occurred, Nixon allegedly served as both accountant and election administrator for the district. The state’s investigation revealed Nixon’s attempts to impede two prospective water district board candidates from appearing on the election ballot.

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Panola County grand jury indictment against Drew Nixon

“Texas will not tolerate illegal acts that undermine the integrity of the electoral process,” said Attorney General Abbott. “Election officials have a duty to serve the public’s interest, not their own. Voters can rest assured the Office of the Attorney General is committed to strictly enforcing election laws.”

Nixon surrendered today to the Panola County Sheriff’s Office.

While working as the water district’s paid accountant, Nixon simultaneously served as a self-appointed election administrator for the May 2006 board election. Nixon is charged with misleading two potential candidates, Dickie Jacks and Jon Kunkel, who planned to challenge incumbent board members.

Despite advice and instruction from the Texas Secretary of State’s office, Nixon initially refused to accept the challengers’ ballot applications. Despite questions from both would-be challengers, Nixon claimed they were not eligible to appear on the ballot. He told both candidates they resided in the wrong precincts.

Official oppression falls under the category of offenses known as “abuse of office” in the state’s Penal Code. It is a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in a punishment of up to one year in prison and a maximum $4,000 fine.