Rep. Scott Taylor’s campaign staff submitted 59 fraudulent signatures on ballot petition documents for another candidate who is running as an independent against the Virginia Republican and his Democratic challenger.
The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk reached 115 of the 584 people whose names appear on the papers that five Taylor staffers, including his campaign manager, filed on behalf of Shaun Brown.
The Pilot determined that Taylor’s staffers forged more than half of the signatures of the people they reached: 59 frauds. Four men whose names were on the papers are dead.
Combined with the petition papers Brown’s actual supporters filed on her behalf, she collected more than 1,900 signatures — though just 1,030 of those were declared valid by the state board of elections.
That’s still enough to get her on the ballot in Virginia’s 2nd District this November, though she is facing prosecution in October for allegedly defrauding the federal government through a summer meal program for kids.
Brown ran against Taylor in 2016 as a Democrat. But the Democratic nominee this year is former Navy commander Elaine Luria. Brown announced in March she would be running as an independent over objections to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee weighing in early on Luria’s behalf.
Though Taylor defeated Brown by 23 points to win a first term, the race this year is projected to be closer.
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Taylor has said he knew some of his campaign staffers were working to get Brown on the ballot, but he denied state Democrats’ charge that they undertook the effort to divide the Democratic vote.
Instead, Taylor said, his five staffers — Heather Guillot, Lauren Creekmore, Roberta Marciano, Daniel Bohner and Nicholas Hornung — were helping Brown because they believed she had been railroaded by the Democratic Party.
Taylor has fired both his campaign manager and campaign consultant.
The state Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit with 35 affidavits from people who claim they never signed a petition for Brown.
Roanoke Commonwealth Attorney Don Caldwell has been pegged to lead an investigation into the matter. Caldwell will investigate whether the Taylor campaign staffers committed felonies, including perjury and filing false statements to the government.
Most of the names were submitted in the final days leading up to the petition filing deadline on June 12. Some of the names were misspelled and one entry contained an old address.
Some of the people who said they did not sign Brown’s petition papers but whose names appeared on them anyway claimed they were Republicans and will still vote for Taylor. For others, the the episode was beyond the pale.
“I voted for him,” said Iva Compton, one of the people contacted by the Pilot. “But I won’t vote for him again.”