VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been over four years since an election petition scandal involving fake signatures helped bring down a well-established congressman.

The scandal involved campaign workers gathering petition signatures for an independent candidate to get on the ballot in the race for Virginia’s Second Congressional District. The criminal part was that someone forged signatures, and then campaign staffers signed the petitions stating the petitions were true and honest.  

Today, the final shoe fell in the Scott Taylor petition scandal when his chief campaign consultant, Rob Catron, took a plea deal to plead “no contest” to three charges of willful neglect of election duties. In exchange, 10 election fraud charges were set aside, but could be brought back if no evidence surfaces. 

Catron was sentenced to 12 months in the Virginia Beach jail for each charge, but all of the 36 months will be suspended in its entirety conditioned upon the following: payment of $2,500 for each of the three charges ($7,500), payment of court costs and 12 months of uniform good behavior.  

“This is definitely a blackspot on my record. I am not proud of that, but I also know life moves on,” Rob Catron said as he showed up to the Virginia Beach courthouse.  

Catron admits he failed to give proper oversight in the gathering of petitions, and he admits as part of a plea agreement he had staffers “sign additional petitions containing voter signatures that they did not personally collect.” 

Catron added: “Anyone confronted with the same facts would do the same thing. I am going to plead no contest to 3 misdemeanors, paying a fine, and walking out the door, and this whole thing is over, and I’m not going to a felony jury trial today. That is what I am getting rid of today.” 

But Catron again maintains no one on staff knew the signatures had been forged.

“If we had known there were forged signatures on the forms, we would have thrown them away. None of us wanted this to happen.” 

Catron blames his former boss, Taylor, for ordering the petition effort to get Shaun Brown on the ballot to try to siphon away votes from his Democratic opponent, Rep. Elaine Luria.

Catron considered the move time-consuming and reckless.

“I told Scott don’t get involved in this. It was Scott’s idea to get Shaun Brown on the ballot, and I told him there are unintended consequences. There always is.” 

The petition incident happened at the same time as the Republican primary.

“It was the same time … we were busy and then Scott put the layers on of this other duty, telling the staff to get signatures so Shaun Brown is on the ballot. I told Scott this is ridiculous. We should not be doing this.”

Taylor’s spokesperson, Diane Toscano, said “Scott Taylor was right all along. Rogue employees violated the peoples’ trust. Scott’s political opponents wrongly attempted to link him to it.” 

She would not say much more.  

On the other hand, Catron clearly puts the blame on Taylor.

“His hubris, his arrogance, his unwillingness to listen to look at people with more experience than him cost him his seat in Congress.” 

Catron’s attorney James Broccoletti said: “He pleaded no contest to willfully failing to discharge his election duties. That he should have had more oversight on what was going on, I am sure it was a hectic situation; I am sure there was a time crunch, petitions coming in and out and back and forth. I am sure there were lots of questions about who was signing which petitions. It was negligent oversight.” 

Catron praised his attorney for getting him out of a situation that had gone on more than four years.

“What we did today was have closure for Rob. He needs to get on with his life. For four years this has gone on, so this ends it,” Broccoletti added. 

Catron added,  

“Three of our campaign friends who I consider to be friends have come here to deal with this fricken mess that Scott Taylor caused.” 

So, the election scandal involving Taylor which likely cost him the election has now ended, and after four years we still don’t officially know who forged the signatures.