Virginia judge rules candidate's name must be removed from ballot due to fraud

Virginia judge rules candidate's name must be removed from ballot due to fraud
© Moriah Ratner

A Virginia judge reportedly ruled Wednesday that a congressional candidate's name must be removed from her district's ballot, citing dozens of fraudulent signatures on petitions gathered in support of her campaign.

Judge Gregory Rupe of the Richmond Circuit Court made the ruling in response to a lawsuit from Virginia Democrats, who alleged that petitions in support of candidate Shaun Brown (I) included signatures from people who were dead or said they had not signed. 

The allegedly fraudulent signatures were collected by the campaign of Brown's Republican rival, Rep. Scott TaylorScott William TaylorVirginia reps urge Trump to declare federal emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence Virginia judge rules candidate's name must be removed from ballot due to fraud Pentagon, GOP breathe sign of relief after Trump cancels parade MORE (R-Va.). Taylor's campaign helped Brown collect signatures in the hope that she would split the district's Democratic vote, The Washington Post reported.

Taylor and Brown were set to compete in a three-way race alongside Democrat Elaine Luria, who has received increased attention following the lawsuit against Brown. 

Three separate investigations have uncovered over 80 falsified signatures collected by Taylor's campaign, The Virginian-Pilot reported

Rupe ruled that Taylor did not have to appear in court on Wednesday, though the Virginia congressman had originally been subpoenaed.

Taylor has said he did not know that his campaign was assembling fraudulent signatures, but he did know they were helping galvanize support for Brown, according to The Virginian-Pilot.  

A special prosecutor is separately investigating whether Taylor’s staff violated campaign laws.

Six people involved with the Taylor campaign have signed affidavits saying they would plead the Fifth if asked if Taylor "personally" directed them to collect signatures, local outlet WTKR reported

Progressive PAC American Bridge 21st Century, an organization that specializes in opposition research against Republican candidates, has claimed that Taylor was likely in his congressional district for two of the four days in June that his staff was collecting signatures for Brown, the Post reported.