Sitting Democratic lawmaker and Secretary of State among those mentioned in FBI filings

06/15/2016 05:27 PM

A new court filing in the ongoing vote-buying case in Magoffin County names sitting state House Rep. John Short, D-Mallie, as having taken part in the scheme in 2012.

The new filing details a vote-buying scheme in the eastern Kentucky area dating from 2002 to 2012. The filing includes sworn testimony from an admitted planner and perpetrator of voter fraud, who says Short asked for his help in his 2012 re-election.

Larry Shepherd filed a motion in limine seeking to preclude the testimony of Scottie McCarty, who pleaded guilty to helping buy votes in 2014. Shepherd’s motion essentially says that McCarty’s testimony should be thrown out because of “prior bad acts he committed in other election cycles with some of the codefendants in this indictment.”

In the filings with the U.S. District Court in Pikeville, U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Taylor attached an email from McCarty, who details voter fraud in Magoffin County from 2002 to 2012.

McCarty details several election cycles and the efforts taken at the Carty Branch Precinct to target vote buying. In the court filings it says the group also targeted Johnson Fork Precinct, Bloomington Precinct, and the Flat Fork Precinct from 2006 to 2014.

McCarty had been placed by Magoffin County Judge-Executive Charles “Doc” Hardin to act as the Democratic judge for the Carty Branch Precinct during several of the elections.

The court filings also say other Democratic officials were placed at the precincts to ensure the voter fraud would take place.

In 2012, McCarty details how Short approached McCarty alongside Hardin for help in the primary election.

“After Charles Hardin and Gary Risner [Magoffin County magistrate] leave to go to gary risners home … john short got in my vehicle with me and rode to gary risners house discussing with me how he needed me on the election board to help him get elected,” McCarty wrote. “We met back up with Charles Hardin and gary risner and as we were leaving, John Short and Charles Hardin insisted that we do ‘whatever it took’ to get Short elected.”

Two weeks before the election took place McCarty writes that two Republicans were going to be seated on the precinct board with McCarty and his brother “that would let us control the voting, no questions asked.”

On the day of the primary election in 2012, McCarty writes that Risner “brought people to the precinct to vote and directed them to me.”

“This went on all day long,” McCarty continued. “Because the board had been hand-picked by the election commissioners and Rena Shepherd, I was able to work both machines all day long no questions asked.”

Short won the primary election against Bobby Hamilton with a vote of 3,394 to 1,246, according to the Secretary of State’s Election Results. Short had 1,873 votes in Magoffin County to Hamilton’s 267.

Through a press contact in Frankfort, Short said he did not have a comment on being named in the court filings.

Republican Party of Kentucky spokesman Tres Watson responded to the filing with a list of his own questions and a response for the Democratic lawmaker.

“Did John Short or anyone acting on his behalf engage in vote buying,” Watson pondered. “Is John Short the subject of an FBI investigation? If so, has he been interviewed by the FBI?

“What did John Short know about the far-reaching vote buying operation in Magoffin County,” Watson continued in a statement. “If Rep. Short is unwilling or unable to answer these questions and give the people of Magoffin and Knott County some peace of mind that he was rightfully elected to serve, I believe he has no other choice but to resign his office and abandon his campaign.”

Short is not the only Democratic official named in the filings, McCarty says that in 2011 Secretary of State candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes was also helped by the group in her Democratic primary against Elaine Walker.

“As in previuois [sic] elections, it was business as usual to hand select the precinct boards so that vote buying could take place as usual to get her elected pre Charles Hardin and Gary Risner,” he wrote. “Again, Carty Branch had the largest voter turnout and the largest margin in the county. I believe it was Grimes 125 to Walker 7.”

There is no mention in the court documents of Grimes, or anyone else from her campaign asking for help with procuring votes in that or any Election.

Grimes’ director of communications, Bradford Queen responded to a request for comment on the court filing, saying, “Secretary Grimes takes the integrity of the Commonwealth’s elections very seriously. She condemns any actions or attempts to improperly influence our democratic elections.”

“When Secretary Grimes came into office she put together an Elections Integrity Task Force, partnering with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the Kentucky Attorney General and Kentucky State Police,” Queen continued. “Through these efforts, we have been able to better safeguard our elections and crack down on election fraud, and those efforts continue today.”

Risner, his wife, Tami Jo Risner; Mason Daniels; and McCarty were all indicted for voter-fraud efforts regarding the 2014 election cycle.

Download the full filing here: Motion and Statements John Short.pdf

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or



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