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Cincinnati councilman isn’t accused of voter fraud

November 20, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: A Democrat candidate in Cincinnati was just arrested for accepting bribes in exchange for votes as a part of a federal sting. Remind me again how voter fraud “isn’t real?”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: Partly false. A federal public corruption investigation in Cincinnati has nothing to do with election voter fraud. Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld was indicted Thursday on six federal counts of bribery and extortion related to a city real estate development deal.

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THE FACTS: Facebook and Twitter posts are wrongly tying the arrest of a Cincinnati city councilman to unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in the U.S. election. 

“VOTER FRAUD IS REAL #ELECTION2020,” wrote a Twitter sharing the false claim about the arrest. 

The federal case is not related to voter fraud or the Nov. 3 election. 

FBI agents arrested Sittenfeld, a Democrat, on Thursday after he was indicted on federal corruption charges. The indictment accuses Sittenfeld of soliciting $40,000 in payments to his political action committee in exchange for whipping votes on Cincinnati City Council for a proposed downtown real estate development. The payments were received between 2018 and 2019, according to the indictment. Sittenfeld pleaded not guilty before a federal magistrate Thursday. 

The federal charges are part of a yearslong federal probe into public corruption in the southwestern Ohio city. Three out of nine members on Cincinnati City Council have been charged in corruption cases so far this year. The federal cases, which have entangled two Democrats and one Republican on the city council, have alleged that the politicians accepted bribes for help related to votes on city development deals _ not in elections. 

Social media users twisted the facts of the case, wrongly pointing to the investigation as proof of voter fraud in the election.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536