State

Four face charges of buying votes in Magoffin County

A candidate for magistrate in Magoffin County bought votes in the primary and general elections in 2014, a federal grand jury has charged.

Gary “Rooster” Risner, who won election and is on the county fiscal court, was indicted along with his wife, Tami Jo Risner; Mason Daniels; and Scott Lynn McCarty.

All four were charged with conspiracy. In addition, the grand jury indicted Gary Risner on eight charges of paying people for their vote in either the May or November 2014 elections.

The grand jury charged Tami Jo Risner with six counts of paying voters before the November election. McCarty was charged with three counts of paying voters and Daniels with two counts.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Gary Risner could not be reached Friday.

Risner told the Herald-Leader in August that he had had his right to hold office restored after being convicted on a federal marijuana violation in the late 1990s.

At the time of that interview, Risner was defending a decision by county Judge-Executive Charles “Doc” Hardin to hire a friend, Randy Salyer, who was convicted of felony vote-buying in the November 2010 election.

“The way I look at it, he served his time and he’s even with the world,” Risner said of Salyer.

Allegations of vote fraud have become common in Magoffin County elections.

In May 2014, opponents alleged someone tacked on more absentee votes for Hardin after the initial count, allowing him to turn a three-vote loss into a three-vote win.

And after Hardin won re-election in November 2014, the losing candidate, Republican John Montgomery, sued, alleging vote-buying by Hardin and improper conduct by county election officials.

Those officials included Salyer’s wife Susie, who was on the county election board.

A judge threw out the results of the election and declared the office vacant, though Hardin has kept the post during an appeal that is still pending.

Hardin has strongly denied any involvement in vote fraud.

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