A Hampton Roads widow said she’s hurt and confused about how her late husband’s signature ended up on a ballot petition that staff for Rep. Scott Taylor, R-2nd, gathered for another candidate.
Another woman said she moved from Virginia Beach to Nevada, where she’s been registered to vote since 2014, and has no idea how her name ended up on a petition a Taylor staffer gathered.
Taylor said he’s investigated and found nothing inappropriate. He said he’s not sure how signatures of someone who is deceased or moved could have shown up on a petition his staff gathered.
“You have no idea when you’re collecting signatures who’s signing,” he said. “So who knows?”
Taylor’s staffers helped gather signatures for Shaun Brown — a former Democratic candidate in the Virginia Beach-based congressional district — to get on the November ballot as an independent. Among the signatures was that of R. Stuart Cake, a well-known civic activist in Hampton Roads who died April 6 at his Virginia Beach home.
His widow, Elizabeth “Bet” Cake, a former staffer for Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., did an interview Monday on the Hampton Roads talk show “HearSay with Cathy Lewis” and said the writing on the petition did not match her husband’s. Plus, the date of his purported signature is June 9.
“There’s no way that could have been signed by him at any time,” she said.
The controversy for Taylor began last week when WHRO radio reported that four of his paid campaign workers helped gather the 1,000 signatures that Brown needed to get on the November ballot. The Taylor campaign wanted Brown on the ballot as an independent because she can potentially draw votes away from Elaine Luria, the Democratic candidate.
When Brown dropped out of the Democratic primary in March, she accused the party establishment in Washington of not respecting Democratic voters by handpicking Luria.
The assistance Taylor provided to Brown in getting on the ballot is not illegal, but it prompted Democrats to accuse Taylor of underhanded tactics.
WHRO reported that Taylor’s staff helped gather signatures for Brown in the final days before her deadline, which was June 12. WHRO also posted the signatures, leading Democrats to comb over them and discover the June 9 signature purported to be from Cake.
Eileen Eady, the voter who moved to Las Vegas, said in an interview Monday that she has no idea how her name and old address in Virginia Beach ended up on a petition.
“I definitely didn’t sign anything and I definitely didn’t give permission for anybody to sign anything,” she said. “I was shocked because not only do I no longer live in Virginia Beach, but I’ve been voting here in Nevada since 2014. I’ve voted in three elections here.”
Jessica Bowman, deputy commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections, said by email that any complaint about the petitions would need to go to the appropriate commonwealth’s attorney. Macie Allen, a spokeswoman for Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin Stolle, said the office had been contacted about the signatures, but she declined to elaborate.
Brown, of Hampton, said Monday that she was not even aware Taylor’s staff had gathered signatures for her.
“I was aware that we had volunteers who said they wanted to go out and help,” she said. “I don’t know who the people are.”
Last week, a federal judge declared a mistrial after a jury could not reach a verdict in fraud allegations against Brown stemming from a summer meals program.