Rep. Scott Taylor, R-2nd, has been subpoenaed to appear in Richmond on Wednesday to testify in a lawsuit related to whether an independent candidate should remain on the ballot in his congressional race. The suit accuses Taylor’s campaign staff of acquiring fraudulent signatures in an attempt to add the spoiler candidate to the November ballot.
Arguments will be heard in Richmond Circuit Court in a suit filed by the Democratic Party of Virginia against the State Board of Elections. The suit alleges that because of rampant fraud in the signatures submitted for Shaun Brown to get on the ballot as an independent in House District 2, a judge should order her to be removed from the ballot.
At least four staffers for Taylor’s re-election campaign in the Virginia Beach-based district helped gather signatures for Brown. The ballot fraud allegations have rocked the Taylor campaign and given fodder to Democrats to attack Taylor as Democratic candidate Elaine Luria tries to unseat him.
“Thus far, investigations into the extent of the fraudulent efforts to put Ms. Brown on the ballot have uncovered at least 80 instances where a voter’s name was forged ...,” read a new filing in the case from the Democratic Party. “In some cases, Congressman Taylor’s staffers forged the names of deceased voters, causing their surviving friends and family members understandable distress.”
Additionally, the Democratic Party lawsuit alleges that Brown gave false addresses for herself on her petitions that were used to certify her for the ballot.
The Democratic Party subpoenaed Taylor, Brown, staffers for Taylor and other people to appear in court Wednesday.
Brown was the Democratic candidate who lost to Taylor in 2016. She is now facing federal fraud allegations in a matter unrelated to the campaign. She was a candidate in the Democratic primary this year, but dropped out and opted to run as an independent, saying the Democratic Party elite in Washington had hand-picked Luria for the nomination.
The apparent intent of Taylor’s campaign in helping Brown make the ballot as an independent was to draw votes away from Luria. And Brown’s presence in the race creates a headache for Democrats, whom she accuses of trying to disenfranchise a minority female candidate.
Taylor echoed Brown this week.
“The Democrat party [sic] 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 sent Tuesday by an aide, Scott Weldon.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee unveiled an ad Tuesday attacking Taylor. The ad, a six-figure buy on Norfolk broadcast stations, will air through Monday, according to the DCCC.
A special prosecutor, Roanoke Commonwealth’s Attorney Donald Caldwell, is investigating whether any crimes were committed.
Meanwhile, Susan Lambert, whose signature was forged on one of the petitions, filed a lawsuit in Norfolk Circuit Court against Roberta Marciano, a campaign staffer for Taylor. Lambert alleges unauthorized use of a name and defamation, causing emotional distress.