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Ohio Anti-Fracking Group Organizer Pleads Guilty to 13 Felony Counts for Election Fraud

Posted By Jackie Stewart, Energy In Depth , Thursday, March 16, 2017

Rebecca Hammonds, a local organizer and employee of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative (OOC) — the multi-million dollar anti-fracking grassroots organization behind the six-times-failed Youngstown Community Bill of Rights ballot initiatives — was sentenced to 180 days in jail this week after pleading guilty to 13 felony counts for false voter registration and election fraud in January.

This is ironic considering this is the same vocal anti oil-and-gas grassroots organization that falsely claimed election fraud after their onslaught of failed Community Bill of Rights efforts in Youngstown just two years ago. Of course, a hand-recount found that, indeed, that the Community Bill of Rights rightly failed. Fast forward two years later, and we learn that one of this group’s organizers has pleaded guilty to multiple felonies and is even guilty of registering deceased people to vote.

But it doesn’t stop there — before Hammonds was sentenced, she stated,

“I felt like I needed to keep the numbers up because it was stated that if there weren’t very many numbers then they would pull the funding, which would mean not only my job but eight other peoples’ jobs.” (Emphasis added)

But that explanation just doesn’t make much sense, considering the organization’s campaign coffers swelled from $1.6 million in 2014 to $2.5 million in 2015, and OCC has taken money directly from anti-fracking national groups such as the George Gund Foundation and the Ford Foundation. As was recently noted,

“[o]ver half of the OOC’s funds are raised through grants from both Ohio-based and national foundations, like the George Gund Foundation and the Ford Foundation, respectively.”

In fact, these “national foundations” have dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into their campaign, resulting in the OOC’s  coffers to swell by almost a million year-over-year. Yet, according to Hammonds, the OOC was threatening funding cuts, which led to their organizer signing up dead people to vote, apparently.

Indeed, this group has made it clear that their priority is to shut down the oil and natural gas industry by way of local control, and its website defines how it plans to carry out their anti-fracking agenda at the local level. From their website,

“Oil and Natural Gas Exploration: In 2004, state law stripped local governments of regulatory power over the oil and gas industry, with all decisions now made at the state level. MVOC partnered with the Committee for Local Control in Youngstown this spring to support a Community Bill of Rights, securing commitments from all Mayoral candidates to seek changes to the existing state law. Organizers have also been traveling across eastern Ohio, meeting with grassroots leaders and attending concerned citizen meetings. Statewide, OOC partnered with Ohio Citizen Action to organize first responders to support legislation which would bring Ohio into compliance with the federal Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act: ensuring that all first responders are aware of chemicals used in large-scale industrial activities, in order to develop a plan to respond in case of an accident.” (Emphasis added)

However, OOC failed not once but six times in Youngstown and their fringe so-called “environmental justice” campaigns have been failing all over the state. It appears OOC has become so desperate that it has stooped to unlawful levels to try to advance its anti-fracking cause.

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