ASHBURN, Va. (7News) — Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares told 7News that his office is reviewing a conversation that happened in April 2023 in the Loudoun Love Warriors Facebook group where a member of the group alleged two candidates forged signatures in an attempt to get on the ballot.
“I'm somewhat limited in what I can say because we have original jurisdiction to prosecute cases of election fraud,” Miyares told 7News Reporter Nick Minock in an exclusive interview. “This has been brought to our office’s attention and we have the appropriate individuals in our office reviewing the material.”
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A whistleblower sent 7News the conversations that happened in the Loudoun Love Warriors Facebook group, which has members who appear to be associated with several elected officials and candidates in Loudoun County.
In Virginia, a candidate for House of Delegates is required to obtain 125 signatures, and a candidate running for State Senate in Virginia is required to obtain 250 signatures from quailed voters, according to the Code of Virginia.
Virginia’s false statement’s statute says “Any willfully false material statement or entry made by any person in any statement, form, or report required by this title shall constitute the crime of election fraud and be punishable as a Class 5 felony.”
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Below is the conversation that happened in the Loudoun Love Warriors Facebook group regarding the alleged forged signatures, according to documents a whistleblower sent to 7News.
The conversation has been edited for length and clarity:
Loudoun Love Warriors Member 1: “What's going on in those districts [name of Loudoun Love Warriors Member employed by an elected official] and [Loudoun Love Warriors Member 3].”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member employed by an elected official: “Two candidates forged their sigs.”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member 1: “Holy s**** who??”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member employed by an elected official: “Let me rephrase: we have substantial evidence that two candidates forged their signatures allegedly allegedly yaddah yaddah.”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member 2: “Do you think it's likely charges will be filed against them?”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member 3: “I hope so.”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member 3: “Don’t cheat. It's that plain and simple.”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member 2: “Do we have an option to submit a complaint to start an investigation?”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member employed by an elected official: “Yes, we are working on it.”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member 4: “Choices were made, actions were taken. Accountability has to happen.”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member 3: “If someone cheats on signatures, imagine what they would cheat on in office.”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member 5: “And if a would-be candidate is struggling to get signatures, they either aren't working at it or haven't inspired anyone else to help them.”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member employed by an elected official: “Yes. [name of person outside the Loudoun Love Warriors group] asked for help, didn't get enough signatures, and dropped out. Which Is what those two should have done but nope. They needed to cheat to win.”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member employed by an elected official: “One of them didn't even know what he wanted to run for, just wanted his name on a ballot somewhere. And the other is a predator piece of garbage human being. Ugh.”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member 3: “Y'all. .. we might have to take the accountability even higher. Va Dems attorneys approved their signatures when they went back and corrected them.”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member employed by an elected official: “I tried telling [name of person outside the Loudoun Love Warriors group] ... he didn't seem to care. I should’ve gone directly to Buta ...”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member 6: “Lesson learned.”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member 3: “I am sending Buta a message RIGHT NOW.”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member 6: “I would have told her.”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member employed by an elected official: “I know, I should have.”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member employed by an elected official: “Thank you guys ... Next time I'm taking these things straight to her instead of trying to sweet talk my manager.”
Loudoun Love Warriors Member 4: “[Name of someone in the Loudoun Love Warriors group], based on the signature situation, this will reflect poorly on Buta.”
7News reached out to Biberaj to ask if she knew of the allegations of the forged signatures and if she reported the matter to law enforcement.
“I do not have, nor have I been shown any such written communications from you, or anyone on our staff,” Biberaj told 7News in a statement. “I don’t have any information that supports your claim that any member of our staff made such statements. If you are in the possession of such information, please release the information and report it to the local law enforcement authorities for investigation.”
7News also reached out to the Virginia Democratic Party and the Loudoun County Democratic Committee for comment and to the two candidates who have allegedly forged signatures.
“There were questions raised with the initial petition submission of one candidate for the HD 26 nomination,” the Loudoun County Democratic Chair told 7News in a statement. “The initial batch of petitions from the candidate submitted was not accepted by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee. The candidate then collected additional signatures and submitted those, fresh, signatures prior to the filing deadline. Those petitions were vetted by the Ad Hoc LCDC Committee that reviewed signatures for the primary nomination. The second, fresh, batch was deemed valid and therefore the candidate was deemed to have met the requirements to be placed on the primary ballot. The candidate has since withdrawn from the race for the HD 26 nomination and has not, to my knowledge, filed to run for any other partisan nominated office at this time.”
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The story has received national attention since 7News' initial report.
In a congressional hearing Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said he would investigate the threats 7News exposed in the Loudoun Love Warriors Facebook group if a complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Education
“Another example of how this DOJ under AG Garland has become a politically focused, weaponized justice system,” U.S. Rep. Bob Good said Tuesday during a hearing in the U.S. House Committee on Education and Workforce. “My office was recently made aware of a report that staff and associates of Loudoun County Schools, they're in the national news all the time, a classic textbook example of education gone awry here at the local level, but they have an orchestrated campaign of smear attacks against local parents. They posted on Facebook threats against parents - was in a Facebook group - saying things like ‘lives need to be ruined beyond repair’ ‘I'm so ready to show up with guns lol’. You think it's appropriate for comments like this to be directed at parents?”
“Parents have the right to communicate and be present at board meetings,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona replied to Rep. Good. “I support parents communicating their thoughts and their displeasure.”
“Do you support an investigation into this, what has happened in Loudoun County schools just recently, would you support an investigation into that?” Rep. Good asked Secretary Cardona.
“We have the Office for Civil Rights that investigates if complaints are made and we're happy to follow up on any complaint,” answered Secretary Cardona.
“Do you support an investigation into this?” Rep. Good asked Secretary Cardona.
“If a complaint to our Office for Civil Rights was filed, I would,” answered Secretary Cardona.
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7News was the first to report that some of the conversations in the Loudoun Love Warriors Facebook group included threatening language against some Loudoun County residents who spoke at school board meetings. Other conversations in the group detailed how some members in the group were trying to get Loudoun County residents fired from their jobs for voicing their opinions.
A person in the “Loudoun Love Warriors” Facebook group wrote, “Please leave me in a room alone with Elicia” and “She is so lucky there are laws because she would be curbstomped.”
“It's very, very hurtful. Especially somebody who's been a victim of violence before,” Loudoun County parents Elicia Brand told 7News. “It has affected me emotionally. I have to look around everywhere I go to make sure they're not there because I don't think laws will stop them from actually doing something.”
After Loudoun County resident Mark Winn spoke at a school board meeting in December 2022, one person in the “Loudoun Love Warriors" said they wanted to find Winn’s employer and hold the company accountable until he is fired. That same person and others wrote:
“It shocked me,” Winn said when he learned of the specific messages in a 7News interview.
What shocked Winn, even more, was a series of messages from people in the “Loudoun Love Warriors," who wrote:
Despite the violent comments, a Loudoun County real estate agent appears to have posted Winn’s address in the “Loudoun Love Warriors” group.
The “Loudoun Love Warriors” group includes people who appear to be associated with Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj, County Supervisor Juli Briskman, School Board Chair Ian Serotkin, school board member Brenda Sheridan, school board member Atoosa Reaser, school board member Erika Ogedegbe, school board candidate Anne Donohue, sheriff candidate Craig Buckley, and Chair Phyllis Randall. None of these elected officials personally made any threats.
Every Loudoun County elected official and candidate who appears to have associations with members of this Facebook group refused to answer questions on camera from 7News on May 9, May 10, May 11, May 12, and May 15. However, some issued statements after the story ran Tuesday.
“Violent threats are never acceptable and at times can be criminal. I personally condemn all violent language and my office will be investigating whether a crime was committed. Due to the possibility of a criminal investigation, I can not comment further at this time," Biberaj said in a statement to 7News.
In a statement to 7News, Randall stated, “No threats of violence are ever appropriate in any way, in any place, at any time, from anyone. I strongly condemn any use of violent language in any capacity. Those that use violent language are not welcome in the Loudoun Democratic Party.”
Buckley released this statement to 7News stating that he condemns violence:
“As a career law enforcement official, I’ve seen how violent speech can spur violent actions. Violent threats in any form will not be tolerated, especially those intended to inhibit First Amendment free speech rights of those we might not agree with. I condemn all speech that threatens violence," said Buckley.
“Although I have no knowledge of the incidents to which you are referring, I fully condemn any and all threats of violence, harassment, and intimidation,” Reaser told 7News in an email after 7News requested an interview with Reaser.
After 7News requested an interview with Briskman, she told 7News in an email that “I will not be commenting for your story.”
"I am not familiar with the Facebook group you cite - "Loudoun Love Warriors." As a long-term resident and the Commonwealth's Attorney for Loudoun County, I hope for meaningful dialogue and less rhetoric in social media. One's First Amendment rights are vital to democracy and our core principles of freedom and justice in America," Biberaj said in a statement to 7News after the story aired. "I have sworn to uphold the United States Constitution and will do so with every fibre of my being. However, if anyone makes threats which cross into being unlawful, I have faith that our local law enforcement is equipped to investigate the matters. If their investigation results in findings of violations of criminal law, then the legal process will be initiated and take its course."
“As a School Board member, I and my colleagues have been the subject of countless death threats and other violent acts. Any violent language or threats used anywhere in any capacity is abhorrent and is against the principles of our democracy. I do not condone any such behavior or anyone I associate with making or tolerating such threats," Serotkin said.
"A news story yesterday reported allegations of threats made against Loudoun County residents in a Facebook group chat. Before yesterday, I was not aware the group existed and I have never been a member. I condemn in the strongest possible terms violence or threats of violence from any source and on any medium. I intend to keep my campaign focused on building community and consensus to make decisions in the best interests of LCPS students," At-Large Loudoun County School Board Candidate Anne Donohue told 7News in a statement on May 10.