Carl Gibson’s fake press release might have been a drunken prank, but authorities say it’s a serious case of voter suppression. The former Democratic campaign worker now faces up to seven years in prison.
Gibson, 28, confessed to sending out fake press releases, posing as 19-year-old Republican candidate Yvonne Dean-Bailey and saying she was ending her campaign to concentrate on her college studies. The fraud was quickly detected — Gibson’s name was embedded in the electronic properties of the email message.
Dean-Bailey was running to fill New Hampshire’s District 32 state representative seat in a special election.
According to the Concord Monitor, Carl Gibson said he “probably had one too many beers” before sending out the fake emails, and it was meant to be a “prank” that shouldn’t be taken seriously.
Unfortunately for Gibson, that’s exactly how the state’s attorney general is taking it.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen LaBonte said the “prank” might constitute voter suppression and is “pretty serious.”
“When you’re trying to trick someone and fraudulently issuing out information in an effort to get people to forgo a fundamental right, I think that’s a big deal.”
The authorities issued an arrest warrant for Carl Gibson, charging him with class B felony voter suppression and class A misdemeanor distributing a false document, according to CBS News. Gibson turned himself in on Thursday.
Voter suppression could carry a seven-year prison sentence and up to a $4,000 fine.
Carl Gibson used to be a campaign worker for Maureen Mann, the Democratic candidate for the special election seat. Mann has publicly denounced the prankster’s actions, calling it “reprehensible,” according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.
“I parted ways with Mr. Gibson weeks ago, and he has not been part of my campaign since then. I’m not sure if he did this because he was angry, or after a few beers as stated in a news report, but I am outraged.”
Gibson reportedly left the Mann campaign roughly a month ago. He was in charge of the candidate’s Twitter feed, but a dispute over the tweets he sent out led to his leaving.
The former campaign worker is scheduled to be arraigned in Concord’s district court on June 22. When asked if he understood the legal consequences of his actions, he said he needed to consult with a lawyer before giving any more comments.
Despite Carl Gibson’s alleged voter suppression, Yvonne Dean-Bailey won the special election.
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