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Voter Fraud Allegations Dog Vernon Reform Efforts

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VERNON (CBS) — A councilman in the city of Vernon faces allegations that he may be unfairly influencing an upcoming election by bringing outsiders into this scandal-plagued city.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports the accusations comes after three former officials were indicted for voter fraud in past years, including a longtime mayor.

The unincorporated industrial city boasts a workforce of over 50,000 employees at its city-owned power plant and 1,800 other local businesses, but with only 70 registered voters, officials are concerned about the integrity of the election.

There has been renewed focus on the fight for the council seat after resident Michael Ybarra announced his bid to run against incumbent Councilman Daniel Newmire — the city’s first contested council election since 2006, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Former attorney general and Los Angeles County district attorney John Van De Kamp is investigating allegations that Newmire has moved some of his supporters into a city-owned home.

“We’re running an inquiry on that right now to see whether or not those allegations are well-founded or not,” said Van De Kamp.

Van De Kamp, who was appointed ethics adviser when Vernon survived a disincorporation effort last year, said the investigation is nearly three-quarters complete.

The city continues its effort to return to viability after struggling through several corruption scandals, including charges that officials paid out millions of dollars to private firms connected to relatives of top city officials over a period of 10 years.

“A number of major reforms have been undertaken, they had elections in November, the reform measures passed overwhelmingly, the salaries in the city have been adjusted,” Van De Kamp noted.

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