Skip to comments.Vote buying in southern West Virginia
Posted on 12/30/2005 9:47:59 AM PST by wvgasman
December 30, 2005 Stowers admits guilt
Clerk says he engaged in vote buying
By Tom Searls Staff writer
Admitting he paid for votes and even decided whose roads would get gravel for votes, Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Greg Stowers entered a guilty plea to a federal vote-buying charge Thursday.
Stowers, 48, admitted to distributing $7,000 to be used to influence voters during the May 2004 primary election. If he receives any prison term, it will likely be a short one.
In return, he agreed to cooperate with federal investigators in their continuing election fraud investigation and agreed to testify before grand juries and at trials.
Mr. Stowers, however, will not be required to provide trial testimony against any member of his family, said Karen George, the assistant U.S. attorney who spearheaded the case.
Stowers, a Hamlin resident, is the son of longtime Lincoln County Democratic chairman Wylie Stowers and the brother of Lyle Stowers, vice chairman of the state Democratic Executive Committee.
Greg Stowers immediately resigned as Lincoln County circuit clerk and from his position on the state Democratic Executive Committee.
What I did was wrong, Stowers attorney Richard Glaser of Charlotte, N.C., read from a statement for Stowers at a press conference following his admission of guilt.
Im trying in a very small way to start to help correct my wrongs. I am cooperating fully with the United States Attorneys Office. Im being truthful about all I did and what I know others did.
Stowers was indicted with a host of others for a conspiracy to control county government in Lincoln County by buying votes, keeping some supporters property taxes low, controlling county and state government jobs and rewarding supporters by ensuring their roads were repaired.
Although Stowers admitted to organizing and leading the illegal political group, he could face only slightly more than a year in prison. When sentenced March 15 by U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver Jr., prosecutors said they would recommend he spend his sentence on home confinement if he fully cooperates with their investigation between now and March.
Copenhaver noted Stowers ultimate sentence will rest with him, not prosecutors.
Stowers also agreed to not participate in politics for at least 10 years.
He told the court he gave the $7,000 in cash to Wandell Rocky Adkins, the lone co-defendant in the case to yet enter a plea agreement, although he has scheduled one. I assume he bought votes [with the cash], Stowers said.
Adkins attorney said there is not much room left in the case to manipulate for his client and said Adkins will plead guilty to an election fraud charge.
Sitting in the courtroom during Stowers plea hearing, afterwards Adkins noted hes the last defendant left standing. You ever see a snowflake on a coal pile? he said.
Also entering guilty pleas before Copenhaver Thursday were co-defendants Toney Zeke Dingess, 35, and Ralph Dale Adkins, 58.
All I know is Greg Stowers gave me some money, said Ralph Adkins, who admitted buying votes in the Branchland area for Stowers during the 1992 primary election.
Adkins said Stowers just met me and gave me a bunch of slates.
Dingess entered a similar plea dealing with the 2004 primary election in the Harts area.
I went there more or less as a bodyguard for Rocky Adkins, he told the court. Hes a sick man.
Dingess said he carried more than $5,000 for Rocky Adkins that day. After Rocky Adkins handed a candidate slate to a potential voter, Dingess said Adkins would raise one finger if he was to pay that person $20, or two fingers if it was a $40 payment.
On Tuesday, Stowers longtime political ally Jerry Weaver, 56, entered a guilty plea and faces up to five years in prison. Weaver, who had served as Lincoln County assessor since 1981, was considered the Stowers political factions bagman.
Weaver told the court he would resign as assessor. It was unclear if he had done so Thursday.
Stowers and most of the other defendants had been fighting the charges since May, though Weaver was not indicted until August.
On Wednesday, another defendant, Clifford Groundhog Vance, pleaded guilty to vote buying.
Originally federal prosecutors had also indicted Jackie David Adkins for vote buying, but dismissed those charges in August. On Thursday, Dingess implicated him in the election fraud case, which could cause a new indictment.
In the press conference after the guilty pleas, Acting U.S. Attorney Chuck Miller congratulated prosecutors George and Larry Ellis, along with federal and state investigators. The investigation has been ongoing at least since 2002.
For too long, the taint of election fraud has hung like a cloud over Southern West Virginia, Miller said at the press conference. I hope these [guilty pleas] send a message.
Stowers statement called on others to stop the dirty politics.
Im here today to say that what I did has to stop, his attorney read from Stowers statement. If my friends in Lincoln County are to really benefit from fair elections, vote-buying has got to stop.
We cant continue to go down the path I willingly followed over these years.
Miller said the investigation has shown corrupt politics is very widespread in Southern West Virginia.
Copenhaver had held the defendants feet to the fire, refusing their motions to continue the trial, which had been set to begin Jan. 3. The pleas wrap up the case, but Miller vowed any additional information discovered through the cooperation of Stowers or from investigators will be pursued. Wherever theyll lead, well follow, he vowed.
Federal prosecutors also have an ongoing election fraud investigation into neighboring Logan County that so far has produced seven guilty pleas. Included were two Logan County officials: County Clerk Glen Dale Hound Dog Adkins and Sheriff John Mendez.
In addition, former Logan police chief Alvin Chipper Porter Jr., attorney Mark Hrutkay, former four-term Logan mayor Tom Esposito, Logan VFW president Ernest Stapleton and former United Mine Workers official French Perry Harvey have all entered related guilty pleas.
Now the rest of the country should understand the battles we have had to fight here.
I like the nicknames in this story. We've got a Rocky, a Zeke , a Chipper, a Hound Dog and even a Ground Hog. Very nice.
Sheets Byrd has been buying votes since he was elected. But in his case they just call it pork.
At a JFK press conference reporters asked Jack Kennedy about buying votes in WV.
Kennedy pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and said it was a letter from his Dad... JFK then read:
Do not buy one more vote in West Virginia than is necessary. I'll be damned if I'll pay for a landslide.
That took care of the situation for the media. That was the last time the buying votes story was mentioned in the campaign.
Byrd makes the people of WV feel that they cannot live without HIM in office.
O.K. so they mention the (D) about his father and brother. Another perp with no party story.
I shall never get used to the GOP silence on the vote fraud issue. Gore and Kerry both took at least 5 states by fraud, severely damaging the GW Mandate.
In 1960, Kennedy stole Illinois and Texas to become President. Silence from Eisenhower and Nixon, who both knew very well what had happened, have helped make fraud a standard Democrat tactic.
Donna Brazile said it all for her team: "Just get me close, I'll do the rest."
So true. Notice how absent the mention of party affiliation is. If this had been Republicans the (R) would have been listed after every name. It's all uphill for Republicans, but it'b becoming more do-able.
Happy New Year to you, Kenny!
This has got to be a problem for the bigoted old bastard. Without voter fraud almost every rat is in trouble.
The problem is those who get 20 bucks to vote will not vote if they don't get their 20 bucks. The problem for Democrats is most of the people whose votes are purchased are too dumb to keep quiet about it. If the Democrats buy votes in 2006, the feds will go in and have zero problems proving that votes were purchased.
Many families have been selling votes for several generations. It is so open that there is no way to do it and keep it quiet. There are a number of party workers who are not going to buy votes for Byrd.
When the choice is Byrd loses or they go to jail, Byrd loses will be the choice.
Republicans have never, EVER, bought votes in W.Va.
Joe Kennedy paid homeless bums $50 each to vote for his golden son in 1960.
Nothing to see here, move along.
Long jail terms and hefty fines will "send a message".
Slaps on the wrist will do nothing to stop this behavior.
I am shocked, SHOCKED, to learn that RATs have been buying votes.
I wonder if this has been posted on DU?