Virginia residents wait in line in the pre-dawn hours to vote in the 2012 U.S. presidential election at Nottoway Park in Vienna, Va., on Nov. 6, 2012.
JIM LO SCALZO/epa

Virginia special prosecutor to examine GOP election scheme

We talked yesterday about Rep. Scott Taylor’s (R) clumsy election scheme in Virginia. What we didn’t know was that the matter would soon be the subject of an investigation. The Washington Post  reported overnight:

A special prosecutor was appointed Tuesday to investigate claims that aides to Rep. Scott W. Taylor (R-Va.) illegally forged signatures to help an independent candidate get on the ballot, hoping to give their boss an edge over his Democratic challenger in the midterm elections. […]

A judge granted a request from Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin D. Stolle (R) to appoint the commonwealth’s attorney for Roanoke, Donald R. Caldwell, to the case.

If you’re just joining us, let’s recap what the story is all about.

In 2016, Scott Taylor easily won his first congressional campaign, dispatching Democrat Shaun Brown (D) by nearly 23 points in Virginia’s 2nd congressional district. Brown seemed eager for a 2018 rematch, but she was indicted on fraud charges, among other alleged misdeeds, and Brown and Democrats soon parted ways. She nevertheless said she intended to run for Congress again, this time as an independent.

And that’s where the story took a turn. Several members of Taylor’s campaign team decided to collect petition signatures for Brown – the congressman’s former opponent – in order to help her get on the 2018 ballot. The point of the scheme wasn’t subtle: Brown could help siphon support away from Taylor’s Democratic opponent, Elaine Luria, making it easier for the Republican to win.

At face value, this may seem like little more than electoral mischief. But it’s not that simple – because members of Taylor’s team didn’t just collect petition signatures for Brown, they’re also accused of forging petition signatures for Brown, and that’s illegal.

Indeed, as the Newport News’ Daily Press  reported today, the number of allegedly forged signatures keeps going up.

For his part, the GOP congressman concedes he was aware of his staffers’ efforts to help get Brown onto the ballot, but Taylor also says he didn’t oversee the scheme and didn’t know about the alleged forgeries.

Earlier this week, the Republican congressman also called the whole story a “nothing burger.” We’ll soon see whether a special prosecutor agrees.

Postscript: For the record, Taylor, even now, insists that Brown should be on the ballot. Under the circumstances, that takes some chutzpah, but apparently the GOP lawmaker is concerned about his re-election prospects.

Virginia

Virginia special prosecutor to examine GOP election scheme