Virginia Congressional Candidate Appeals Her Removal from Ballot

Shaun Brown, Independent candidate for Virginia’s Second Congressional District, answers questions from reporters on the steps of the John Marshall Courthouse in Richmond. (Photo by Brad Kutner)

RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – An Independent congressional candidate who last week was struck from the November ballot due to extensive problems with her petition signatures is appealing her case to the Virginia Supreme Court.

In an appeal filed on Monday, Shaun Brown contends that once her petition was certified by the state board of elections, a judge no longer had the authority to remove her from the ballot.

On Sept. 5, Judge Gregory Rupe, who presides in Virginia’s 13th Judicial Circuit, found the petition used to qualify Brown for the ballot was fraught with “fraud, forgery and perjury” and ordered the state election agency to strike her name from it.

Brown’s battle to stay on the ballot began after a local NPR station found several names listed on her petition belonged either to dead people or to individuals who had since moved out of the district.

Based on that report, the Virginia Democratic Party sued the board of elections to block her candidacy.

Brown claims the party’s actions reflect decades-old racial animus by the Democrats, and their request to remove her from the ballot should be scrutinized because, as a black woman, she is a member of a protected minority class.

Brown seeks an expedited review of her case without the need to add to evidence claiming “the issues of statutory and constitutional interpretation and lack of jurisdiction set forth in this appeal can be decided on the basis of the verified pleadings that had already been made part of the record.”

She argues the need to stop her name being removed for three reasons: the circuit court lacks jurisdiction and authority to interfere by injunction, the order does “compel the performance of a discretionary duty” and the Democratic party lacks standing to even bring the case.

Brown’s saga grabbed headlines earlier this year when it was discovered the Republican incumbent, Rep. Scott Taylor, sent paid staff members to volunteer with Brown’s campaign and collect signatures for her petition.

Taylor told the Virginian-Pilot newspaper earlier this year that he sent his staffers to help the political novice, but he has since avoided discussing the issue.

In court last week, the plaintiff Democrats argued both Brown and Taylor were involved in an illicit bid to get her on the ballot, and that the Republican’s hope was to split the democratic vote and ensure his re-election.

Taylor’s campaign staff, as well as a notary of the public who was supposed to confirm the authenticity of the signatures, all pleaded the Fifth amendment during last week’s hearing.

The deadline to print names on the ballot is Sept. 23. Virginians go to the polls on Nov. 6.

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