PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side is tracking the truth for two commercials in the 80th House of Delegates race covering Portsmouth.
The ads bring up the controversial history of Attorney Don Scott.
In one of his campaign mailers he writes, “My story is one of hope and overcoming challenges.” To say Scott has had challenges is understating his personal history, which includes 7 years in federal prison.
The commercials against Scott, a Democrat, are not on TV. They’re online, on Facebook.
They’re paid for by his independent opponent, Ryan Benton.
“Everything that I had when we produced this video was a result of the court documents obtained,” Benton said.
The commercial begins with the Navy ship USS Wisconsin.
A voice comes in saying, “what else don’t we know about Don Scott … he brags about his service as a Navy officer in a recent campaign mailer.”
The next frame comes up: “Within a month he went AWOL (absent without leave) for 3 days and missed his ship’s movement, resulting in a 30 day non judicial punishment.”
The Truth Tracker finds that true, Scott was considered AWOL (absent without leave).
It is true he was late back to his ship and it left without him.
Why did he miss the ship movement? “It was a long time ago, frankly, I can not tell you the reason why,” Scott said. “I was late. I was young. I made a mistake. I own that mistake.”
The commercial continues, “Don’s security clearance was later revoked.”
That is true, his clearance was revoked for reasons including “untrustworthiness.”
His commanding officer wrote: “Counseling at every level has failed to produce any improvements.”
10 On Your Side asked Scott about that, “I am proud of my Naval service, I will not allow anyone to denigrate my service in harms way on behalf of this country.”
In 1990 the Navy separated from Scott. His commanding officer wrote: “His actions do not command the respect due an officer, leading to a lack of credibility and a loss of respect from his juniors and peers, and a total loss of confidence in him by his seniors.”
To that Scott says, “I served my country honorably despite the opinion of one commander.”
After all this, it is true Scott was given an Honorable Discharge from the Navy. Scott also showed us a Fitness of Officer report from a supervisor two years earlier writing, Scott “was industrious … had a positive attitude … professional.”
The second commercial focuses on Scott’s law degree from Louisiana State University.
“Recently revealed documents show a calculated con artist that obtained his law degree by cheating the ethics committee at LSU School of Law.”
It is true that Scott faced expulsion from LSU following his arrest for a drug conspiracy to sell crack cocaine. In order to graduate from LSU, Scott took the stand and under oath said he was not involved with the crime. He convinced the committee, and was eventually allowed to graduate, which he did.
The commercial states: “Don Scott received his law degree and became an attorney based on a lie.”
It is true, according to court documents, that when Scott was pleading no contest to the drug charge in court he was asked, “what you said at LSU was you were not guilty, you didn’t do any of this, it’s all untrue, isn’t that what you said?”
Scott responded, “yes.”
“And that is inconsistent with what you have said today?” he was asked in court. Scott responded “yes.”
The commercial then comes back in: “Don Scott’s legal career as an attorney was founded on a total lie under oath.”
10 On Your Side asked him about what he said at LSU, which turned out to not be true, according to the later testimony.
“I am going to tell you I am proud of what I have been able to do this time, and if these people want to come after me with this plea agreement, then all I want to say is I am thankful with my opportunity to serve the people of Portsmouth.”
Watching the commercials was tough for Scott. “I hope that this is the story that folks will take from this: that you can make a mistake and society is so good, sometimes if you work hard, they will give you the opportunity to come back.”
Say what you will about Don Scott, but at his core, he is resilient.