Congressman’s office says staffers accused of participating in forgery scandal are no longer with the campaign

Lauren Creekmore, one of four employees of U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor who collected signatures on...
Lauren Creekmore, one of four employees of U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor who collected signatures on behalf of Shaun Brown, enters the John Marshall Courthouse in Richmond. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)
Updated: Oct. 23, 2018 at 3:52 PM EDT
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A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor, a Virginia Beach Republican, says the campaign staffers who were accused of forging signatures to get a third-party candidate on the ballot are gone.

“None of the people accused of any wrongdoing is working with the campaign,” Taylor’s spokesman, Scott Weldon told The Virginia Mercury.

Talking Points Memo reported last week that recent campaign finance reports show four of the 2nd District congressman’s staffers who were named in civil court proceedings got paid as recently as mid-September. The recent reports only require disclosures up to Sept. 30.

But while Weldon said Taylor’s campaign has cleaned house, he would not provide any other details or confirm staffers by name, citing an ongoing criminal investigation into the forged signatures.

Taylor and his campaign came under fire in August after it was revealed his paid staff members collected signatures to get Shaun Brown, who is running as an independent, onto the ballot.

Brown ran against Taylor in 2016 as a Democrat. This year, the Democratic Party picked newcomer Elaine Luria to take Taylor on, and getting Brown on the ballot as an independent was evidently a bid by Taylor to divide the Democratic vote.

Among the names Taylor’s staff collected on Brown’s signatures were several dead people and other inconsistencies, like two versions of Virginia Beach Republican Del. Glenn Davis’ signature and others who said they never signed the petitions.

Democrats filed suit, and, during the civil proceeding to get Brown off the ballot in early September, four of Taylor’s staffers were named by Richmond Circuit Court Judge Gregory Rupe and submitted affidavits instead of testifying at that court date.

The staffers invoked their Fifth Amendment right to avoid answering questions about whether they knew the signatures were forged and if Taylor directed them to do commit forgery and fraud.

“The court was presented with clear and convincing evidence that the petitions circulated by these five individuals are rife with errors, inconsistencies and forgeries,” he wrote, referring to staff members Lauren Creekmore, Heather Guillot, Roberta Marciano, Rob Catron and David Bohner.

“Therefore the court is satisfied that every petition circulated by these five individuals was done so with the intent to defraud the commonwealth and its election officials.”

Taylor had already “cut ties” with Catron by the time of the civil court date, according to a Sept. 3 court filing.

Taylor paid Lauren Creekmore and Roberta Marciano $4,829 between Aug. 1 and Sept. 12, according to the campaign’s most recent finance reports.

He paid $9,000 to Heather Guillot in the same time period for campaign consulting and $4,500 to Validus LLC, which was created by David Bohner, according to SCC documents.

Taylor said in a now-deleted August Facebook video that he knew of his staff’s efforts to get Brown on the ballot.

But, he said in the video, if they did anything illegal, he would “fire them in a second.”

Taylor’s camp isn’t sure when the criminal investigation will wrap up — it’s being handled by the Roanoke Commonwealth’s Attorney’ Office. Election Day is Nov. 6.

It doesn’t appear that the investigation is hurting Taylor. He’s up in most polls — up almost 7 percent in one conducted last week by Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center for Public Policy.

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.