VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A local attorney and former chairman of the 2nd Congressional District Republican Committee plans to sue two former staffers of Congressman Scott Taylor, who are accused of putting fake names on a petition list to help Taylor win reelection.
The former staffers allegedly gathered the names to get Shaun Brown, who ran as a Democrat against Taylor in 2016, on the ballot as an independent.
Brown would likely take votes away from the Democrat on the ballot, Elaine Luria, and help Taylor in the November election. The State Democratic Party has already filed a lawsuit asking for Brown not to appear on the ballot.
Gary Byler, a Republican who lost to Taylor in the 2013 primary for the 85th District seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, told 10 On Your Side he will accuse Taylor’s campaign staffers of identify theft, using names without permission, and even racketeering. The two staffers swore they legally witnessed the signing of the petition names that are now apparently forged.
“People who are dead, people who have moved out of state, people who have declined to participate in the petition were willfully put on that form,” Byler said.
Byler’s legal team will argue the forging of at least 35 names was not random.
“Look, if there is an organized effort saying ‘hey, you do this, and I’ll pay you that. Hey you also do this, and I’ll pay you that,’ that is absolutely a text book case of racketeering,” Byler said. “Whether it was for laziness or expedience, I can’t answer, but those names are not random voters.”
Byler wouldn’t identify his clients, but it’s not Cake or Dorris Harris, whose names were forged.
Harris and another woman named Ann Kolantis both told 10 On Your Side their names had been forged.
“The folks I represent are politically active people, and they take very seriously the integrity of our election system,” Byler said. “We want to know how this happened, who directed it, and what can we do to prevent this from happening again.”
Byler says the Taylor staffers he is suing probably thought they wouldn’t get caught.
“They were under deadline, had 48 hours to get the signatures, it wasn’t very good planning by the consultant.”
Byler thinks some of the signatures may have come from walk lists where campaign workers are going door-to-door to find voters likely to support a particular candidate.
Taylor sent this statement to 10 On Your Side in response to Byler’s planned lawsuit:
“This lawsuit is without merit, and it is disappointing Gary Byler would file these after having to settle a case with me after his campaign sent out fraudulent material against me and he was compelled to publicly apologize. He has been a longtime political opponent and this is a continuation of that and nothing more.”
Byler sent the following statement to 10 On Your Side Tuesday morning:
“I have a few questions in response to Scott Taylor’s statement:
Who said anything about Scott Taylor? How can he tell the suit is
without merit having not read its contents. Does the Congressman have any concern for constituents who had their ID stolen? He should understand the lawyer is not a party to the suit? In my opinion Mr. Taylor is channeling his inner Trump.”
Taylor and Byler, among other parties, settled the $5 million defamation lawsuit that Taylor references in 2015 under confidential terms. Byler confirmed to 10 On Your Side that he did apologize to Taylor in connection to the defamation claims.