Richmond Circuit Judge Gregory Rupe, in a written opinion Thursday, blamed “blatant forgeries” and “sophomoric errors,” among other reasons, for his ruling a day prior that independent congressional candidate Shaun Brown must be kicked off the ballot for the 2018 House race in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District.
In the opinion released Thursday, Rupe cited 41 affidavits collected by the Democratic Party of Virginia alleging that forged signatures were collected on Brown’s behalf by staffers on Rep. Scott Taylor’s (R-VA) reelection campaign. Rupe also said he found a handwriting expert’s claim that 146 signatures were forged “convincing.”
Taylor’s staffers have been accused of forging signatures on petition sheets supporting Brown in an effort to split the Democratic vote between Brown, the Democrats’ 2016 nominee, and Elaine Luria, the Democrats’ 2018 nominee. Taylor has acknowledged he knew his staffers were collecting signatures for Brown, but has asserted he was unaware of any criminal violations. A separate special prosecutor’s investigation into potential criminal violations is ongoing.
Rupe said that all of the signatures for Brown on petition sheets collected by five Taylor staffers “must be excluded,” thereby lowering Brown’s valid signature count to below the required 1,000.
“[T]he Court is satisfied that every petition circulated by these five individuals was done so with the intent to defraud the Commonwealth and its election officials,” Rupe’s opinion read.
On top of all that, Rupe wrote that “every petition page must be struck because none of them listed a correct address for Ms. Brown.”
Read Rupe’s opinion, provided to TPM by the Democratic Party of Virginia, below: