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Shelley accused of breaking election law


State Democrats said today they want prosecutors to charge Republican congressional candidate Shelley Sekula-Gibbs with a misdemeanor, claiming she broke state election laws by campaigning inside a Sugar Land polling location on Thursday.

Chad Dunn, general counsel for the Texas Democratic Party, said Democratic poll watcher Jane Borden Matcha watched Thursday as Sekula-Gibbs wandered through the early-voting location at First Colony Conference Center and introduced herself to voters.

“She committed a crime yesterday by campaigning within a polling location,” Dunn said. “It’s a play out of the (former House Majority Leader) Tom DeLay playbook of winning at any cost.”

Dunn and Mustafa Tameez, a Democratic political consultant, said Matcha signed an affidavit and planned to ask the Fort Bend County Attorney’s Office to prosecute.

Sekula-Gibbs acknowledged visiting the polling location to campaign Thursday, but said she stayed at least 100 feet from the door, as required by law. She went inside briefly to use the rest room, she said, and inquired about voter turnout.

“I just said to the person there, ‘I’m Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. How’s turnout?'” she said. “I did not approach any voters. I was not campaigning, and once again Nick Lampson is attacking me because he’s afraid to tell the voters about his stands on the issues.

She said that to which person where? From context, I’d say she means a poll worker. At least, if she means one of the people sitting behind a computer, checking voter’s reg cards and generating the eSlate access codes, then I’d say she has a defense against this charge. If it was anybody on the other side of the table, then I’d say she should be in trouble.

Dunn said he also would ask the Texas Secretary of State’s office to assign inspectors to other polling places.

Matcha told Dunn and Tameez that she saw Sekula-Gibbs enter the polling place and introduce herself. Matcha said Sekula-Gibbs peeked inside a voting booth, spoke with voters and introduced herself to Matcha. Matcha said she complained to the election judge about Sekula-Gibbs’ actions, but the judge chose not to respond.

“He said he didn’t see it as real campaigning, so he was going to let it go,” said Dunn.

One of these two accounts cannot be true. And this doesn’t sound to me like a problem of interpretation, either. Someone needs to talk to the other people who were there and find out whose story can be confirmed. The Stakeholder has more.

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  1. Jim D says:

    Josh Marshall has a zinger for ya, Kuff:

    “Who can blame her for hanging out at polling stations? The poor woman has about the worst name imaginable for a write-in candidate. Actually, what I think she said was, ‘Hi, I’m S-H-E-L-L-E-Y space S-E-K-U-L-A hyphen G-I-B-B-S.'”

  2. Kevin Whited says:

    This sounds like one of those sophisticated nefarious Republican voter intimidation efforts you’ve hinted at in other posts.

    Don’t let doctor-councilwoman steal this election by taking a pee break and saying hello to poll workers, I say! Because once you go down that road, where does it lead? Don’t let them take YOUR country from you!

  3. Charles Hixon says:

    If it draws publicity she’ll do it some more.

  4. Greg Wythe says:

    Heh … such enlightening commentary from the “realistic and unbiased” Kevin Whited. Just imagine what he’d sound like if he were a Republican ideologue!

  5. My main takeaway from this is that SSG is not a seasoned enough campaigner not to stupidly break rules for no advantage.

  6. precinct1233 says:

    If she was inside the polling place and not voting, that’s a violation of state law. The only persons allowed inside polling places are pollworkers, voters, and those assisting voters who require assistance.
    There are no exceptions to this rule, and a complaint needs to be filed against the Election Judge for not ejecting SSG from the location.

  7. Only an idiot would have been that stupid to do something that stupid.

    In fact, one did.

    This has got to be one of the most bonehead moments in District 22, besides Delay quiting, and Wallace quiting, and well, whatever.

    Shelley did this on purpose. She can not be that ignorant of the law, and if she is, she shouldn’t be a congressman or even a candidate.

    I think if nothing else, she should be required to stay 500 feet from a polling location from now on.

    She is obviously above the law.

    Just like DeLay.

  8. Jim D says:

    Or at least 100 feet. But yeah.

    How does someone elected at-large to the Houston City Council not know this?