CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) – A Chicago alderman may be in hot water after she offered people the chance to win prizes if they vote.
Fifth Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston has since pulled the post off her Facebook page, but not after it caught the attention of the Cook County State’s Attorney.
FOX 32 News went to the Southside office of Hairston to see if they’re really handing out prizes for voting.
The post on the alderman’s Facebook page went up Monday telling residents they could win raffle prizes if they go to the polls.
Hairston’s instructions: “Vote–you’re eligible no matter the candidate, then put their name and contact information on the back of their voter receipt…. And stop by the Fifth Ward office and drop it off.”
Among the raffle prizes were gift cards from area businesses, including Walgreens, Potbelly’s and Starbucks. Plus, $100 visa gift cards.
FOX 32 showed the Facebook post to election attorney Burt Odelson.
“[This is] not okay. Not legal. It violates Article 29-1 of the election code,” Odelson said.
Article 29-1 bans the practice of vote-buying, and carries a class four felony.
“That section is very specific that you cannot offer anything, money or anything of value, to entice someone to vote one way or another, or just to vote,” Odelson added.
FOX 32 News caught up with the Alderman at City Hall on a break from budget hearings.
FOX 32’s Dane Placko: “You offered gift cards for people who came in with a voting slip.”
Ald. Leslie Hairston: “Well, that is not exactly it.”
Dane: “How am I wrong?”
Hairston: “The post is now gone.”
Dane: “Well the post was up for some time.”
Hairston: “And now it’s gone.”
Indeed, the raffle post had disappeared from Hairston’s Facebook page by early afternoon.
Dane: “Do you understand why people became alarmed about this?”
Hairston: “When we found out we took it down.”
Later, Hairston issued the following statement:
“…my only intent was to encourage people to exercise their right to vote… There was no subterfuge involved at any time. It may not have been well thought out, but it was well intentioned.”
“It is a throwback to the old hinky dink days to tell you the truth when it was commonplace to buy a person’s vote. When it was a big joke. But this is Chicago,” Odelson said.
A spokesperson for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez told FOX 32 News their election fraud unit was made aware of the post and has opened an investigation.
By the way, Hairston’s office said no one had entered the raffle by the time it was taken down Tuesday afternoon.