Gadi Schwartz and Peter St. Cyr, 4 On Your Side
Alcohol and voting do not mix, but that didn’t stop campaign workers in Rio Arriba from offering people miniature bottles of whiskey while giving them rides to an early voting center.
On the first day of early voting, 4 On Your Side watched some campaign workers and voters taking what looked like small bottles of alcohol from a cooler in the back of a truck used to shuttle voters to the polls.
To get closer, 4OYS reporter Gadi Schwartz and producer Peter St. Cyr disguised themselves as homeless people and spent two days walking up and down the streets, standing on corners, and even hanging out at an empty lot known to attract drug addicts and transients.
Eventually, a black Tahoe slowly approached St. Cyr.
County employee Elias Fresquez, who is on leave from his job at a senior facility in Chimayo, offered him a ride to go early vote. St. Cyr climbed in the Tahoe and turned on a hidden camera built into a key chain remote.
Inside, St. Cyr was told he should vote for County Commissioner Alfredo Montoya who is running for State Senate against incumbent Sen. Richard Martinez.
St. Cyr was also told to vote for Elias Coriz, candidate for Rio Arriba county treasurer, and incumbent County Clerk Moises Morales.
With the hidden camera rolling, St. Cyr asked for something to drink.
“Do you guys having anything to drink or anything like that,” St. Cyr asked Fresquez.
“Like Whiskey,” Fresquez responded.
“Yeah,” St. Cyr said.
“Give him a shot of Admiral,” Fresquez said to a man sitting in the back of the truck.
On the way to the polls, Fresquez, who has been arrested for DWI and is not licensed to drive, spotted a State Police car and pulled the SUV over. After switching seats, Fresquez called out to other people he saw walking down the street.
“Stinking sniffers,” Fresquez yelled before asking the people outside the truck, if they have already voted.
After being told they had already cast their vote, the Tahoe pulled away and headed to the county offices and the early voting site.
Along the way, St. Cyr asked for another drink. He was told he will get more alcohol after he votes.
Inside the center, St. Cyr met up with Schwartz and the two confront the men in the Tahoe.
Schwartz: "I'm from KOB - Channel 4."
Schwartz: "We're doing a story on early voting. We're doing a story about you guys driving people to the polls, possibly giving them alcohol and taking them to the polls to vote. Homeless people, people on the street, addicts, those kinds of things."
Fresquez and his crew started to roll up their truck windows and drive away, but Schwartz stopped them.
Schwartz: " Hey, Elias Fresquez; yeah, we want to talk to you."
Fresquez: " What's going on?"
Schwartz: " Taking him to vote; you guys are taking him to vote. You didn't give this guy a miniature?"
Fresquez: " He asked us for money. I told him there's no money. "
St. Cyr said he never asked for any money.
Schwartz: "So you gave him a miniature of alcohol? "
Fresquez: " We didn't give him a miniature."
Schwartz: "Are you guys giving people alcohol?"
Fresquez: "I didn't give him alcohol."
Schwartz: "Yeah, we do have it recorded."
Fresquez: "Well then show it."
Schwartz: "Oh, you'll see it on the news. You'll see it on the news."
Schwartz: "We want to know how often you're doing this? We've been watching you for three days now. You guys are shuttling people in an out. In and out."
Schwartz: "Are you guys working for Alfredo?"
Schwartz: "Does he know any of this is going on?"
Fresquez: "We're not working for Alfredo. We have our own deal."
Schwartz: "So what's the deal?"
Fresquez: "You show us booze? We're bringing in voters. We didn't give him. He wanted money. We told him we're not giving him money."
Schwartz: "So, you're cool with just showing us your car? There's not going to be any alcohol in here."
Fresquez: "If you have a warrant you can check."
Schwartz: "I don't have a warrant. I've got video of alcohol in your car."
Schwartz: "So, you told him to vote for Alfredo Montoya, you told him to vote for Elias Coriz..."
Fresquez: "I gave him a ballot like that."
Schwartz: "And, you also told him to vote for Moises right? Those are three people."
Fresquez: "No. Those are even the one's I'm supporting. I'm supporting some other guys. That's the ballot like that bro. That the way the ballot is like that."
Schwartz: "Who are you supporting?"
Fresquez: "I'm really giving them a ride to just go vote."
Schwartz: "No alcohol."
Fresquez: "If there's any proof...show it."
Later in the day, Fresquez found Schwartz and St. Cyr on a bridge working on another part of this story. At this point, Fresquez was a passenger in a white Corvette, but Schwartz wanted to know why he was driving earlier.
Schwartz: "Are you suppose to be driving? Do you have a license?"
Schwartz: "To drive?"
Fresquez: "No, I don't have a license."
Schwartz: "Why are you driving?"
Schwartz: "Today. We've got video of you driving man. You might as well just come clean about everything."
Fresquez: "Come clean about what?"
Schwartz: "About who's letting you do what?"
Fresquez: "Nobody's telling me to do what."
After speaking with Fresquez , Schwartz reached out to the candidates named in this story. Each one of them denied knowing what Fresquez and his crew were doing.
Coriz and Morales declined on camera interviews.They said they have done nothing wrong. Morales sent 4OYS a written statement:
"I do not tolerate any immoral unethical or illegal activity."
Senate Candidate Alfredo Montoya agreed to a brief interview.
"We know that he had alcohol in the car, which he denied, and we have video proof of, and we have we know that he was telling people to vote for you. As the candidate, what do you think?" Schwartz asked.
"I don't condone activity that is improper, unethical, immoral," Montoya stated.
"Did you know about any of this?" Schwartz asked.
"I didn't know that this is occurring because I don't condone getting voters your providing alcohol or anything else," Montoya said.
When Schwartz asked what he was going to do about Fresquez and the other campaign workers, Montoya said he still welcomes their support.
"If he's not committed a crime....if he still wants to continue to help me, I would welcome the help,” Montoya said. “I'm in a tight race and so, I don't think -- with my knowledge he not doing anything."
"You're telling me two different things. You're saying you'd welcome his support, but at the same time...." Schwartz proceeded to say.
"I'm saying he does not have my permission to anything improper....There are strict instructions from me to please don't do anything that is improper," Montoya said.
KOB has learned the Secretary of State plans to review the 4OYS video and may launch their own investigation.