All Muck is Local: Virginia

(Ed. Note: We come across a number of local stories each week that just cry out for our attention, but since we confine our muckraking to the national level, we’re forced to take a pass. No longer. Each weekend we’ll be shining a bright light on the muckiest local muck of the week. Got an entry we should consider? Let us know. – PK)

A tight primary race, indictments of voter fraud and a squealing babysitter.

In the 27th State District of Virginia, Mike Tate (R) was indicted Monday on two counts of voter fraud and nine counts of perjury concerning previous campaign finance reports. Meanwhile, with the primary election only 18 days away, Tate’s lawyer, Edward MacMahon Jr., is crying foul. “I find it outrageous that charges like this would be brought in the middle of a primary campaign, which has the effect of subverting the democratic process.”

MacMahon is pointing fingers at Tate’s Republican opponent Jill Holtzman Vogel, a former chief counsel for the RNC with strong ties to the Virginia Conservative Action PAC. After all, reason Tate supporters, the woman who brought the complaint to the attention of the Virginia State Board of Elections is a campaign volunteer for Vogel; the local Leesburg Today even reports that the whistleblower occasionally babysat Vogel’s children. And the local prosecutor who initially handled the complaint supported Vogel last year, although the prosecutor recused himself from the investigation in February.

The coincidences don’t stop there. Remember Jason Torchinsky from the American Center for Voting Rights? He shares an office with Jill Holtzman Vogel at the boutique Republican law firm Holztman Vogel. So the woman accused of trumping up cases of voter fraud works with a man whose think tank worked to spread misinformation about voter fraud. Coincidence? Maybe.Vogel is having none of Tate’s accusations, remarking “a special prosecutor from another county investigated Mark, a circuit court empowered the investigation, and a grand jury indicted Mark for 11 counts of criminal behavior. No amount of name calling or blame shifting can change that fact.” And Tate is no stranger to election indiscretions. In the past three years he has paid fines six times for late filings of campaign finance statements, racking up a bill of $900.

Control of the Virginia Senate is open to change this November election, and with no incumbent in front of them, both candidates are anxious to gain their party’s nomination. Already Tate and Vogel have raised a combined $800,000. Whether that money will protect Tate’s reputation long enough to make it through the primary is another story.

Late update: Jill Holtzman Vogel was incorrectly named as Jane Holtzman Vogel.

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