Politics

Scott Taylor to Break Silence in Court Over Forgery Case

Virginia Republican’s staffers allegedly forged signatures to get third-party candidate on November ballot

Rep. Scott Taylor, R-Va., has been mostly silent as media outlets have reported on at least four of his staffers allegedly forging signatures to get a third-party candidate on the ballot this November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Richmond, Virginia, court has subpoenaed Rep. Scott Taylor to testify about his involvement in the ballot petition forgery scandal that has dogged his campaign to the point that he and his office ghosted media requests for more than a week.

The subpoena could force the Virginia Republican to break that silence in court as early as Wednesday.

The Democratic Party of Virginia filed a lawsuit in August against the state elections board demanding that it remove third-party candidate Shaun Brown from the 2nd District ballot for failing to gather the requisite 1,000 signatures on petition sheets required to place her name on the ballot in the general election this November.

In the suit, the Democrats allege that four of Taylor’s campaign staffers collected signatures for Brown and that they forged at least 80 names in the days leading up to the deadline to file the ballot petition sheets in order to push Brown over the 1,000-signature threshold.

A special prosecutor has been assigned to investigate the alleged forgeries.

Brown also submitted her own petition sheets where she repeatedly wrote that she lived at an address where she has never lived, Democrats argue.

Taylor has admitted he knew some of his campaign staffers were working to get Brown on the ballot, but he denied the Democrats’ charge that his team undertook the effort to divide the Democratic vote or that he knew of any signature malfeasance.

Brown, who is facing prosecution in October for allegedly defrauding the federal government through a summer meal program for kids, was his Democratic opponent in 2016. But the party establishment in Washington threw its weight behind Navy veteran Elaine Luria in the primary.

Instead, Taylor has said previously, his five staffers were helping Brown because they believed she had been railroaded and “disenfranchised” by the Democratic Party.

He repeated that line Tuesday in his office’s first response to media requests in the last week.

“The Democrat [sic] Party is using this lawsuit to disenfranchise a candidate and politically smear another, running ads on TV and boasting about it on social media before there is even a hearing,” Taylor said in a statement released to multiple media outlets Tuesday.

He was referring to an ad by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that will air on local broadcasts through Monday hammering him for the episode.

Taylor fired his campaign manager earlier this year and ousted his campaign consultant after media outlets picked up the signature forgery story.

When Roll Call published a story last week about one of the congressman's staffers who Democrats allege forged signatures, a spokesman for his office did not return at least four requests for comment via email and telephone.

Taylor’s campaign “did not respond to multiple requests for comment” from Talking Points Memo for a story it published last week about a phone call he made to one of the first constituents to report his staff's alleged forgery, threatening legal action against the woman for social media posts about the subject.

And after Taylor’s campaign “did not respond to multiple requests for comment” from The Washington Post for a story that ran Tuesday, a reporter went to his district office to track him down. When an office worker went back to get Taylor, “spokesman Scott Weldon emerged instead,” the paper wrote.

“We can’t comment on anything right now,” Weldon told the Post, “because of the pending investigation.”

By press time, Weldon had not responded to a request for comment on this story.

Though Taylor defeated Brown by 23 points to win a first term, the race against Luria this year is projected to be closer.

President Donald Trump carried the district by just 3 points over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Leans Republican.

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