SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield mayoral candidate Justin Hurst held a news conference Thursday morning to address what he calls Mayor Sarno’s “false accusations” in the mayoral race.
VIDEO: Justin Hurst News Conference
In a release sent to 22News, Hurst’s campaign said Sarno’s quote “attempt to steal the election will not go unnoticed”. The release did not describe what the accusations were.
Springfield Solicitor John Payne told 22News that the city has asked the Hampden District Attorney’s Office to investigate the claims of voter fraud.
According to an affidavit obtained by 22News, an elections office employee witnessed a man hand $10 to a person who had just voted. Election officials also say they witnessed people who had just voted getting into a car driven by candidate Justin Hurst.
The affidavit says multiple people who were voting on Saturday asked the election office employees for $10 payments. Election employees informed voters that the city does not pay people to vote.
Mayor Sarno told 22News that these are serious allegations and they are upsetting to him. He released the following statement:
“Election Commissioner Gladys Oyola-Lopez on Saturday, October 28, reported suspicious activity during early voting to our office. We immediately referred her to City Solicitor Judge John Payne. These allegations are very serious and upsetting to me.
Voting is a sacred trust and should be treated as such. The integrity of our elections must be protected. This is a legal matter which has been reported to the proper authorities by Solicitor Judge Payne.
I will have no further comment at this time.”Mayor Domenic J. Sarno
Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts William Galvin told 22News, “Any allegations of money being exchanged for votes is certainly concerning, and deserves further investigation. My office has been in touch with law enforcement, as we would be with any report of a potential irregularity, to ensure that the integrity of the process is maintained.”
The Office of Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell said that this has not been referred to their office. The AG’s Office as well as the Department of Justice said they cannot confirm, deny, or comment on investigations.
The Hampden District Attorney’s Office told 22News there they have no statement at this time.
Hurst is challenging Sarno in the Springfield mayoral race happening on November 7th. Solicitor Payne said it will be a fair election and voters do not have to worry.
WWLP-22News, an NBC affiliate, began broadcasting in March 1953 providing local news, network, syndicated, and local programming to western Massachusetts. Follow 22News on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.