An Ohio-based environmentalist whose group once accused energy companies of election fraud was sentenced this week on charges she falsified voter registrations.
Rebecca Hammonds, an activist with Ohio Organizing Collaborative (OOC), a wealthy anti-fracking grassroots organization, was sentenced to 180 days in jail Monday after pleading guilty to 13 felony counts of election fraud in January. She originally faced 35 counts.
The fraudulent registrations happened two years ago in Columbiana County.
Her legal troubles are ironic considering OOC claimed in 2015 that election fraud stymied the Community Bill of Rights initiative, a ballot proposal that would allow communities to ban fracking in their towns. A hand recount eventually found that their proposal failed on its own merits.
Hammonds apparently believed flubbing the voter registration numbers would convince OOC to continue bankrolling her position.
“I felt like I needed to keep the numbers up because it was stated that if there weren’t very many numbers then they would pull the funding, which would mean not only my job but eight other peoples’ jobs,” Hammonds said.
Officials said checks and balances are in place to prevent this type of voter fraud.
“The handwriting wasn’t the same. The signature wasn’t the same. Maybe the birth date was off by a year or so. Things were flagging off as irregular than what we had in our system,” Adam Booth, director of the Columbiana County Board of Elections, told reporters later.
The special prosecutor in the case believes Hammonds was merely acting lazy.
“It was an hourly pay wage job and this defendant felt it was easier to sign up people falsely,” Special Prosecutor Brian Deckert told reporters. “I think it just may have come down to human laziness.”
Anti-fracking activists in the Buckeye State suffered a series of crippling legal defeats last year when Ohio’s Supreme Court refused to place anti-fossil fuel measures on the ballot in November.
The court’s decisions should not come as a shock, as similar bans have been struck down in other states across the country.
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