RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – A criminal investigation of Mark Earley Jr., a Republican candidate vying for the House of Delegates, is underway after a complaint was reported to Virginia State Police about the paperwork he submitted to qualify for the June 8 primary ballot.
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.
The son of Mark Earley Sr., former Virginia Attorney General, Earley Jr. also 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.
Earley did not disclose his other residence when he initially 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.
Virginia State Police began the investigation last week after getting a complaint, according to a spokeswoman.
“The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Richmond Field Office initiated an investigation into a complaint concerning paperwork submitted by Mark Earley Jr. to the Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council,” Corinne Geller, a state police spokeswoman, wrote in an email.
State police will turn over its findings to the commonwealth’s attorney for review and a ruling, Geller added. Earley’s campaign declined an interview request, but his campaign manager wrote in a statement that she believes investigators will find it was simple mistake that Earley amended.
WATCH: 8News political analyst Rich Meagher talks about the VSP investigation into Earley’s paperwork and why he doesn’t think it’s likely to go anywhere.
“The Virginia State Police are simply doing their job, as they are obligated to look into complaints. We have every confidence that they will conclude that this was nothing more than an honest mistake that was immediately corrected,” Asa Bryant, Earley’s campaign manager, wrote in an email.
Earley Jr. is one of two Republicans running for the party’s nomination in the race for the 68th District, which is represented by Del. Dawn Adams (D-Richmond). According to the Department of Elections, Earley Jr. is qualified for the Republican primary against fellow GOP candidate Mike Dickinson.
Dickinson, who unsuccessfully ran for Richmond City Council last year, 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 state police.
In a phone interview Friday, Dickinson questioned the argument from Earley’s campaign, claiming that most candidates didn’t make a mistake and believing the omission was deliberate.
“The majority of, 99% of the other candidates didn’t have a problem. He’s a lawyer, how can you not know,” Dickinson said. “I think that he did it on purpose. It’s not a simple paperwork error.”
“Mark’s opponent, a former Democrat congressional candidate with a questionable background, is desperately trying to get attention for himself by trying to smear Mark and turn a corrected paperwork error into something more,” Bryant’s statement continued.
“I expect them to attack me, but unfortunately this is not about me,” Dickinson responded. “It’s about Mark Earley willfully misleading voters and lying on forms – it’s not about me.”
The 68th district is almost split evenly between Chesterfield County and Richmond City, including a small sliver covering Henrico County. The Republican primary for the district is on June 8 but early voting has already begun.