A former Maryland state lawmaker was sentenced Friday to six months in prison followed by two months of home detention for misusing campaign funds for her personal benefit.
Tawanna Gaines, a Democrat who had served in the Maryland House of Delegates since 2001, also must pay $22,565 in restitution.
Gaines, 67, of Berwyn Heights, pleaded guilty in October to one count of wire fraud. She faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, but federal sentencing guidelines called for a range of eight to 14 months. U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang wasn´t bound by those guidelines when he sentenced Gaines, who must report to prison by Feb. 24.
Gaines told the judge that she didn’t want other public officials to be judged by her actions, according to Daily Mail.
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“I took my oath very seriously, but I fell short,” she said.
The judge said the prison sentence reflects a need to deter others, particularly public officials, from engaging in “this type of corrupt behavior.” He called her crime a “lapse in judgment” in an otherwise law-abiding career.
“It may not have seemed like a big deal at the time, but it undermines our citizens’ faith in their democracy,” Chuang said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom has said Gaines spent campaign money on personal expenses including fast food, hair styling, dental work, a cover for her swimming pool and an Amazon Prime membership. The prosecutor, who recommended an eight-month prison sentence, said Gaines made more than 200 illegal withdrawals of money over three years, but it added up to a relatively modest amount.
“There doesn’t appear to be a reason for it,” he said. “The defendant does not lead an extravagant lifestyle.”
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Gaines resigned days before she was charged in a criminal information. The Oct. 7 court filing accused Gaines of defrauding her campaign and its contributors out of more than $22,000.
INEC Extends Voter Registration Indefinitely, Gives Reason
The Independent National Electoral Commission has officially announced an indefinite extension to the ongoing continuous voter registration for the 2023 election which was expected to end on June 30, 2022.
INEC National Electoral Commissioner and Chairman (Information and Voter Education Committee), Festus Okoye, made the announcement in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.
According to him, the CVR will continue nationwide, adding that all the Resident Electoral Commissioners and electoral officers have been directed to continue with the exercise pending further directives from the commission.
While giving reasons for the extension, Okoye said that the commission had consistently reiterated its resolve to continue to provide electoral services to the Nigerian people by registering all eligible Nigerians that were interested in registering.
He also explained that the matter was in a Federal High Court, relating to the terminal date of the CVR.
A Federal High Court in Abuja had granted an order of interim injunction stopping INEC from ending voter registration on June 30, 2022.
“The matter came up on Wednesday June 29, 2022, and based on the request of the commission, the court granted an accelerated hearing and adjourned the matter to Monday July 4, 2022 for hearing of the substantive matter. The commission will give an update after court hearing next week”, Okoye said.
He added that INEC has deployed additional machines to areas of pressure and would continue to serve the people of Nigeria.
Speaking on the issuance of Certified True Copy of documents, Okoye observed that INEC had been inundated with applications for CTCs of various documents.
Okoye said, so far, 186 requests for CTCs, some running into hundreds of pages, have been processed.
He said, “The commission is working round the clock, including weekends, to attend to all such requests. We wish to assure political parties, aspirants, candidates, and all applicants for CTCs of documents that their applications will be treated expeditiously and will be issued in earnest.”
Speaking on the submission of list and particulars of nominated candidates for governorship and State Assembly primaries, Okoye said the July 15, 2022 given to political parties remained valid.
“By the timetable and schedule of activities released by the commission, political parties that conducted valid governorship and State Assembly primaries shall upload the list and personal particulars of their nominated candidates between July 1 and 15 2022.
“We urge political parties to scrutinize the list and personal particulars of the candidates they propose to sponsor at the election to avoid any mix-up and duplication of names. Political parties are advised not to wait until the last day before uploading the list and personal particulars of their candidates.
“The candidates nomination portal will shut down at 6pm on July 15, 2022. Political parties that have challenges with uploading documents should contact the Commission’s Help Desk, through the dedicated telephone lines or contact the candidate nomination centre at the Commission’s Headquarters”, he said.
2023: Sowore Unveils Running Mate, Vows To Win Kano
The presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, Omoyele Sowore, has officially announced a lawyer, Haruna Garba Magashi, as his running mate.
This as he also expressed optimism that his party will defeat the ruling All Progressives Congress and main opposition Peoples Democratic Party during next year’s presidential election.
Sowore, who made the announcement on Thursday in Abuja, said that his running mate has what it takes to deliver Kano, his home state, for the AAC during the 2023 general election.
“We hope to defeat APC over there because the governor has messed up; we know that we will defeat PDP, that’s the party that’s in crisis as we speak.
“We don’t need to talk about the Labour Party in Kano because the party doesn’t exist,” the AAC candidate said.
“We know that we will defeat Alhaji Kwankawso and his party, the NNPP in Kano because we have got someone who is from there.”
The AAC had earlier submitted Magashi’s name to the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Edo APC Chides Obaseki Over Poor State Of Schools, Alarming Insecurity
The All Progressives Congress (APC), Edo State chapter, has condemned the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration for the poor condition of schools, and increasing alarming insecurity in the state.
Reacting to the poor state of schools and insecurity, the state Publicity Secretary of the party, Peter Enoserogbe Uwadiae Igbinigie Esq., said it’s very “worrisome to note that the Obaseki’s led PDP administration has returned the education sector in Edo to the doldrums, also allowed the ever alarming rate of insecurity.”
The party lamented that the high level of overall development in the education sector established by his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole, has since been abandoned by the administration.
He Said: “Now, the schools has returned to utter state of decay before the coming of the APC led administration of Oshiomhole.
“What is prevailing is a radical departure from the high standard as set by Adams Oshiomhole’s administration, ‘the Red Roof Revolution’ which was widely applauded within and outside the State and even beyond.”
He noted that the story of Ofumwengbe Primary School in the media where there is no roof and the pupils sit on the bare floor, is only a classical example of the unfortunate situation across the state under the Obaseki’s administration.
“Whearas, the Obaseki’s administration continue to deceive the people with the so called EDOBEST programme which obviously has no bearing with the physical realities on ground.
“Evidently, ‘EDOBEST’ has been a conduit pipe via which the Obaseki’s administration has been using to syphone the collective resources of Edo people.
“If you go to schools across the state, with the Ofumwengbe Primary School story as brought to the fore by the journalist who visited the school on the behest of the community leaders; pupils now sit on the bare floor to learn.
“Whereas, the Edo State Government keeps singing with the EDOBEST programme to have greatly changed the narrative in the state.
“But while Oshiomhole was in charge, the practicality of what the education system should be, was obvious: red roof revolution, holistic infrastructure development and teachers employment.
“Since the coming of the Obaseki’s administration, no employment of teachers, infrastructure are in utter decay; underlining the fact that EDOBEST programme is not only a total failure, but a charade.
“Ultimately, this is not how the education sector should be as compared to the dreams of our forebears.”
Also notably, insecurity in Edo has assumed a frightening dimension that no one feels safe anymore. Traveling on our roads is now a nightmare, and people can no longer go to their farms for fear of being attacked.
“It is very saddening that the environment is very volatile that going about one’s business is a top risk.
“A case in point is the killing of the Catholic Priest in Okabigbo, Edo North last Sunday, and resumption of cult related killings on Wednesday in Benin City.
“We, however, commiserate with the family of the victims, the Catholic Church, and Christiandom for the untimely loss of their loved ones.”
The party accused the Obaseki’s administration for poor funding of the security architecture in the state, hence the prevailing ever increasing insecurity in the state.
The vigilante outfit are not even trained, they go about carrying arms that are inferior to that of the criminal elements.
The APC consequently challenged the Obaseki’s administration to put to judicious use, the monthly security vote of the N750m it receives from the Federal Government.
As it reiterates that the situation prevailing is very worrisome, and charged the Government to wake up to the challenge.
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