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Nicole Lafond

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.

Articles by Nichole

Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA) has had a very hectic summer.

Between casting votes along predictable party lines in support of ICE and against carbon taxes, while simultaneously opposing his own party’s “compromise” immigration bill, campaigning for his own reelection and maintaining his powerlifting schedule, busy-boy Taylor has had plenty of official business to keep him occupied the past few months. He most definitely does not have the time or energy to call constituents and threaten them with lawsuits over their Facebook posts.

But, alas, this is Duke of the Week and you masochists came here to get mad online about something other than Donald J. Trump so here it is: Taylor most certainly did do that. 

In the latest chapter of an unfolding scandal which has been extensively covered by our Matt Shuham and includes antics on-par with the rowdy behavior of the politicians in HBO’s parody “Veep,” a circuit court judge in Richmond, Virginia recently booted an independent candidate, Shaun Brown, off of the upcoming ballot because her qualifying petition was covered in fake signatures collected by Taylor’s staffers.

In an apparent effort to cleave the Democratic vote by helping a former Democratic nominee (Brown) get on the ballot as an independent next to the 2018 nominee (Elaine Luria), Taylor staffers collected petition signatures for Brown. But, perhaps unable to finish the job in a lawful manner, the rag-tag group of aides apparently forged a slew of John Hancocks; nearly half of the 377 signatures they collected were deemed fraudulent by a handwriting expert who testified in the Richmond court on Wednesday. The Democratic Party of Virginia, the group that brought the lawsuit, also presented the judge with 41 affidavits signed by folks who claimed their signatures on Brown’s petition were fake.

But before the scandal was brought to the courtroom, the existence of just one fake signature was flagged by a Virginian named Lindsey Terry, who took to social media to alert the masses when she noticed the signature and outdated address of her friend and former neighbor on the petition. The problem? Terry’s friend had moved to Las Vegas years ago.

Not long after posting about the ordeal on Facebook and Twitter, Terry received a call from a very exasperated Taylor, who told her his staffer might sue her over the allegations she had made on social media. But he didn’t stop there. Swiping a page from the book of cartoonish villains everywhere, Taylor also apparently insinuated that he knew where she lived.

The befuddling scandal culminated in Brown getting removed from the ballot — her lawyer told TPM she intends to appeal the decision — leaving Taylor right back where he started, with just one Democratic opponent in Virginia’s largely Republican 2nd Congressional District.

For acting like a fraudster in order to beat out a Democratic opponent, Taylor is our Duke of the Week.

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