The alleged signature forgeries continue to pile up in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, where paid campaign staffers for Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA) have now been credibly accused of forging at least four dead voters’ signatures, and dozens of others’, on petitions to get an independent candidate on the ballot.
The signature forgery scheme was an apparent effort to split the Democratic vote in half by getting the Democratic Party’s 2016 nominee for the district, Shaun Brown, on the ballot as an independent candidate beside the party’s 2018 nominee, former Navy commander Elaine Luria.
That split would benefit Taylor, who, though a campaign spokesperson has said he was aware of his staffers collecting signatures for Brown, has professed ignorance of any unlawful behavior. A special prosecutor is looking into potential criminal violations.
TPM reported Wednesday that the Democratic Party of Virginia, which has sued state election officials to remove Brown’s name from the ballot, had collected 41 affidavits from voters who alleged fraudulent signatures, including from the relatives of two dead people.
The Virginian-Pilot, publishing the results of a two-week investigation on Saturday, found four dead voters whose names appeared on petitions collected, and 59 total fraudulent signatures.
The paper called voters whose purported signatures had been collected by Taylor staffers, asking if the signatures were valid. The staffers together collected nearly 600 signatures. Of the 115 voters the paper reached, 59 said their — or their relatives’ — signatures were fraudulent.
Floyd Newkirk, Hugh Doy, Melvin Chittum and Stuart Cake all passed away in recent years. And yet, their purported signatures were collected by the Republican’s campaign staffers in apparent effort to weaken his Democratic opponent’s chances.
“It’s really unsettling to think that somebody got all these names and used them,” Stuart Cake’s widow, Elizabeth Cake, told TPM this past week. “And it’s sad to think that people would do that for political gain.”
Taylor spokesperson Scott Weldon told the Virginian-Pilot: “With respect to the efforts by some in our campaign to assist Ms. Brown in getting on the ballot, there is an investigation that is ongoing, and it obviously would not be appropriate to comment at this time.”
Before the signature scandal broke, Taylor said on Aug. 7, he’d fired his campaign manager “for separate issues.” After it broke, he said in the same statement, “current knowledge underscores that [firing] decision and prompted me to sever ties with my campaign consultant.” He never identified either fired staffer.