RICHMOND — The Virginia Supreme Court has denied the appeal of Shaun Brown, who was ordered off the ballot for the 2nd Congressional District election after a circuit court judge found that her qualifying petitions contained forged signatures.
Brown, who ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for the Hampton Roads-area seat in 2016, had sought to run as an independent against incumbent Rep. Scott Taylor (R) and Democratic challenger Elaine Luria.
Staffers from Taylor’s campaign had collected signatures to help Brown qualify for the ballot in a strategy apparently aimed at siphoning votes away from Luria.
Many people whose names were collected by Taylor’s staffers came forward later to say their signatures were forged, and last week Circuit Court Judge Gregory L. Rupe ruled that the petitions reflected “out and out fraud.”
In court last week, five staffers paid by the Taylor campaign invoked their Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves to avoid answering questions about whether they knowingly submitted false signatures. Some also pleaded the Fifth to avoid answering whether the congressman orchestrated the signature-gathering effort.
Rupe ordered Brown’s name removed from the ballot.
State police are investigating the situation for potential criminal charges, but the special prosecutor handling the case said he will not wrap things up until after the November election.
Brown said last week that she had no idea Taylor’s staffers were collecting signatures on her behalf, and she challenged the court’s right to throw her off the ballot after the petitions had been certified by the State Board of Elections.
Three judges of the state Supreme Court denied Brown’s appeal late Wednesday night but said they were doing so on procedural grounds because Rupe’s final order had not yet been entered and because Brown’s appeal did not contain certain documents.
The window for her to act is quickly closing, though — ballots were set to be printed Thursday without Brown’s name.