A Democratic activist who received a phone call from Rep. Scott Taylor about ballot fraud allegations she made against his staff, and a woman whose signature was forged on a ballot petition, said they were interviewed by Virginia State Police investigators looking into the scandal that has rocked the Virginia Beach Republican’s re-election campaign.
Virginia State Police told one of the women they interviewed that they are conducting two ballot fraud investigations in the 2nd Congressional District. One relates to how signatures verified by campaign staff for Taylor included forgeries. A second is into former independent candidate Shaun Brown’s use of three false addresses on forms she submitted to get on the ballot.
The story unfolded after WHRO public radio in Hampton Roads reported that Taylor’s staff had helped gather signatures to help get Brown, a 2016 Democratic candidate, on this year’s ballot as an independent. Such action is not illegal, and the Taylor campaign’s strategy apparently was to dilute votes from Democratic nominee Elaine Luria in November and create an added challenge for the Democrats.
Lindsey Terry holds leadership posts in the Virginia Beach Democratic Committee and is one of two women recently interviewed by state police. It’s unclear how many people state police have spoken with as part of a criminal probe, but Terry and her friend shared details of their interviews with the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Terry said that in August she was looking over the Brown petitions Taylor’s staffers had gathered in June and posted online by WHRO and was shocked to see the name of a close friend, Eileen Eady, who had moved to Nevada and has been registered to vote there since 2014. Terry contacted Eady, who confirmed that she hadn’t signed any petition for Brown.
Terry posted on Twitter and Facebook about the forged signature, naming the Taylor staffer who signed off as witnessing it.
On Monday, she described what happened next to two state police investigators at their office in Chesapeake.
A friend called her on behalf of Taylor to say that Taylor wanted her social media posts taken down. Terry told her friend the congressman could call her directly. Taylor called her and was agitated, she said of the conversation, which was first reported by the political news website Talking Points Memo.
“He told me that he had no idea how this happened, that [his staffer] would never do such a thing, and it was extremely careless for me to make an accusation like that,” Terry said. Taylor told her the staffer “has every right to sue me, [and] she probably will, and he highly suggested that I take it down.”
Taylor also told Terry that Republicans had a record of Eady voting in Virginia Beach in 2016. Terry told him that was not possible and told him he should be upset that someone forged a name.
Taylor suggested that maybe someone voted illegally in Eady’s name, Terry said. And he told Terry that he had someone drive by her house that day to verify that she lived near the address he had for Eady.
“He said he wanted to verify that I was neighbors with her,” Terry said. “He said, ‘I even found your real name.’”
Terry is her maiden name. Her name on her voter registration is Lindsey Nathaniel.
Having her congressman tell her she could be sued was intimidating, Terry said.
“He was trying to play the good guy while intimidating me to take it down,” she said. “I was trying to be strong with it, but couldn’t when he was threatening a lawsuit.”
After the call, Terry deleted her tweet and edited her Facebook post to remove the name of the Taylor staffer who had signed the form with Eady’s forged signature.
The state police investigator who scheduled the Monday interview with Terry told her he was the lead investigator on the Brown side of the investigation, Terry said. He asked her follow-up questions about her call from Taylor while a second investigator took notes, she said. They told her another investigator on the Taylor side would be in touch.
Taylor and his campaign declined to comment for this story, citing the investigation.
Roanoke Commonwealth’s Attorney Donald Caldwell, the special prosecutor in the case, said the investigation “will not be complete prior to the election, so I would not anticipate any activity publicly until possibly first of the year.”
The police interview with Terry included questions about the three addresses listed by Brown on her ballot petitions.
A Richmond Circuit Court judge on Sept. 5 ordered Brown removed from the ballot, ruling in a civil lawsuit the Democratic Party of Virginia brought against state elections officials.
The judge found the signatures Taylor’s staffers submitted contained forgeries. He also found that Brown used three false addresses for herself in Virginia Beach on her petitions: 5887 Campus Drive, 5587 Campus Drive and 3683 Windmill Drive.
Terry helped expose those addresses and said she explained her evidence to state police.
She said she did a property search on 5887 Campus Drive and could not find it, so she drove to the location and found no 5800 block. She then found Brown registered to vote at 5587 Campus Drive, which is owned by Amelia Ross-Hammond, a former Virginia Beach City Council member backing Luria. Ross-Hammond signed an affidavit on Aug. 13 saying that Brown had asked if she could use the residence as a campaign staging location, but she never entered into any rental agreement and Brown did not live there.
A state police investigator asked Terry how he could get an original copy of the affidavit and for a video of Ross-Hammond saying Brown never lived there.
Brown acknowledged after the Sept. 5 court hearing that she lives with her mother in Hampton.
Terry’s friend Eady, who had moved to Nevada, said she received a phone call from a state police investigator on Monday asking her if she signed the petition or asked anyone to sign her name. She told him no.
“Because it’s an ongoing criminal investigation, we are not in a position to comment any further,” state police spokesman Corinne Geller said by email.