RICHMOND (CN) – The Democratic Party of Virginia sued state Board of Elections on Monday, asking a judge to strike the name of a third-party congressional candidate from the ballot ahead of November’s midterm elections.
The 23-page complaint, filed in Richmond Circuit Court, says independent Shawn Brown, a candidate for the Second Congressional District, submitted her candidacy papers with 1,600 of the over 2,500 signatures on the petition fraudulent. State law requires at least 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot.
News broke earlier this month that Republican challenger and incumbent Scott Taylor sent his paid staff to collect signatures for Brown as volunteers during the week before the deadline was due.
In a document attached to the complaint, attorney Mark Elias of Perkins Coie says his firm’s investigation, funded by the state Democratic Party, found at least 27 confirmed fraudulent signatures.
“It is clear that we have yet uncovered only a fraction of incidents of fraud that runs rampant throughout the petition.” Elias wrote.
In an interview with local TV station WAVY, Taylor said he was aware his staff was gathering signatures for Brown and he supported their work because she was “disenfranchised twice by the Democratic Party.”
Brown ran as a Democrat against Taylor in 2016, and lost when the Republican garnered 61 percent of the vote. While she had declared her intention to run as a Democrat this year, the complaint says she did not participate in the congressional primary and instead ran as an independent.
“They tried to get her off the ballot in the first place, and that is why she ran as an independent. Now they are trying to get her off the ballot again,” Taylor told the TV station. “I think that is a big problem.”
In a statement to Courthouse News, Democratic Party of Virginia spokesman Jake Rubenstein put the blame for the fraudulent signatures squarely on “Taylor’s current and former staff.”
“There is substantial evidence for the court to mandate that the independent candidate’s name not be printed on the VA-02 ballot,” he said.
Taylor told WAVY he’s since fired the campaign worker who was responsible for the signature collection.
While this lawsuit and the future of Brown’s place on the ballot is yet to be decided, a criminal investigation is underway to determine if election or forgery laws were broken in the collection of the fraudulent signatures.