Thomas A. "Tag" Greason launched a write-in campaign for the Broad Run District School Board seat last week, after the State Board of Elections disqualified Tuesday, July 3, him from running on the official ballot.
Greason contacted Judy Brown, the countyÕs general registrar, when he realized he made a mistake on the Certificate of Candidate Qualification. The Broad Run resident did not witness all 125 registered voters sign his petition to be eligible to run for the School Board seat. According to the State Board of ElectionsÕ candidacy requirements for local offices, "the person circulating the petition must affirm before a notary or other person authorized to administer oaths, that he personally witnessed the affixing of the signatures."
"Apparently, he misunderstood the application," Brown said at the time. "He contacted the board and indicated he thought he made a mistake."
When Brown recounted the signatures Greason said he witnessed, he was short 23 votes.
"We had to invalidate the petition," Brown said.
According to the State Board of ElectionsÕ Certificate of Candidate Qualification, knowingly making an untrue statement or entry on the application is a felony under Virginia Law. A candidate who lies on his or her application is subject to punishment of a maximum of $2,500 and/or up to 10 years in prison and he or she could loose the right to vote.
"That would only come into play if someone turns this case over to the CommonwealthÕs Attorney," Brown said at the time. "That wouldnÕt be done by our office."
LAST MONTH, School Board member Bob Ohneiser (Broad Run) called CommonwealthÕs Attorney James Plowman inquiring into potential irregularities in GreasonÕs campaign. Plowman referred him to the registrar.
"It is their responsibility to determine if the petitions and signatures in question were properly filed," Plowman said.
Ohneiser made a follow-up telephone call to Plowman indicating that he had a "criminal complaint package" that he would be forwarding to the CommonwealthÕs AttorneyÕs attention.
In a letter addressed to Greason and Ohneiser, Plowman determined the filing errors made my Greason were due to a misunderstanding and unfamiliarity with the electoral process.
"Based on Mr. GreasonÕs actions, as described by the registrar, this matter is inconsistent with someone that had criminal intent," Plowman said in the letter. "As a result of the review of this matter, this office will decline any further action."
GREASON SAID he will run a write-in campaign for the same reasons he chose to run in the first place, for his three children.
"My opponent has focused on this honest mistake and wants to damage my reputation, my career and disrupt my family with threats of a criminal investigation regarding the error on my petitions," Greason said.
GreasonÕs lawyer Charlie King said, from a legal standpoint, there is nothing stopping his client from running a write-in campaign.
"I now feel free to exercise my constitutional right to run for office, without fear of future threat from my opponent and chase my dream of public service to the citizens of the Broad Run District," Greason said.