Investigation clears Virginia House candidate Mark Earley Jr. of election fraud

Virginia Elections

Mark Earley Jr. in December 2019. (Photo: 8News)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — An investigation into whether Virginia House of Delegates candidate Mark Earley Jr. violated the law when filling out forms required for the June 8 primary ballot has come to an end.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Timothy A. Martin said a special agent with the Virginia State Police handled this matter and found that the investigation did not reveal any “willful, material, false statements made by Earley.”

Seeking the 68th District House seat in Richmond, Earley Jr. moved his family from the city’s Woodland Heights neighborhood to live with his parents in the district in order to qualify for the Republican primary. Candidates are required to live in the districts they aim to represent. 

Earley Jr., the son of former Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley Sr., made an error on an economic interest statement when filing his paperwork. The document asks whether a candidate owns real estate, beyond their main residence, that’s valued at over $5,000.

He also did not disclose his other residence when he signed the document on March 16, according to the original paperwork he signed and filed.

Virginia law prohibits “any willfully false material statement or entry” on forms from candidates.

According to the investigation findings, Virginia State Police agents performed surveillance of the candidate and interviewed several witnesses.

“At no point after Mr. Earley filled out the Certificate of Candidate Qualification did he live at 403 W. 24th Street. At the time he filled out the form, he lived at 10121 Uppingham Terrace, which is the address he listed on the form and is in the 68th District,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Martin wrote in his report.

A short time after he moved to the Uppingham Terrace address, Earley sold his home on W. 24th Street. Earley then moved from Uppingham Terrace to 2517 Colton Dr. in Chesterfield County, the investigation detailed.

“The bottom line is that the allegation that Mr. Earley lived at the 24th Street address in the 69th District while running for office in the 68th is unfounded,” the report stated.

When it comes to the second allegation that Mr. Earley willingly made a false statement when he filled out the economic interest document, the investigation revealed that there is no indication that Earley’s mistake claim is false.

“All of the available evidence leads to the conclusion that his checking the wrong box was unintentional. The statute only seeks to punish willful deception,” the investigation stated.

Virginia State Police started investigating Earley after a complaint concerning paperwork submitted by Earley was made.

Earley was running against GOP candidate Mike Dickinson, who told 8News he filed a Freedom of Information Act request for Earley’s paperwork after being tipped off that Earley did not live in the district. He then submitted the complaint to the state police.

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