ARLINGTON, Va. -- Following the release of a video this week that shows Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Moran's son, Patrick, apparently talking about ways to skirt voter identification laws, the Arlington County Police Department has opened a criminal investigation into the matter.
"Every component is under investigation right now," police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said. "It's very early."
The video, released by conservative activist James O'Keefe — whose methods and productions have been called into question in the past — shows the younger Moran responding to requests for advice on how the unidentified cameraman can "vote for" 100 inactive voters. Patrick Moran, after suggesting the person's energy would be better used in more traditional — and legal — get-out-the-vote efforts, tells the man he'd have to forge documents, such as utility bills, to be successful. He also recommends the man call the voters, perhaps posing as a pollster, to be sure they are not, in fact, planning to vote.
Police and the Commonwealth Attorney's Office have been made aware of the video, which investigators described as depicting Patrick Moran "assisting another to vote illegally," according to a news release.
Police are not planning to take Patrick Moran into custody at this point, Sternbeck told Patch.
"I believe the first step would be to reach out to the individuals who produced the video," he said.
Sternbeck continued: "We're going to assign it to a detective, he's going to reach out to the individuals who produced the video and look at every component. Just as any investigation goes, you're going to have a starting point, involve both parties, come to a determination and hand those results over to the Commonwealth Attorney's Office, and they will decide whether they want to prosecute."
When asked about O'Keefe's credibility, Sternbeck said, "We'll find out, right? It would be irresponsible of us not to investigate. So, we're proceeding."
The video was shot in Arlington's Courthouse community, including inside the Cosi across from the Courthouse Metro and in the nearby Arlington County Democratic Committee headquarters. Mike Lieberman, chairman of the Arlington Democrats, issued a statement Wednesday night saying Patrick Moran has been asked not to return to that office.
Patrick Moran resigned from his father's reelection campaign hours after the video surfaced Wednesday. He released a statement Wednesday night saying he has never endorsed illegal or unethical behavior and that "At no point did I take this person seriously. He struck me as being unstable and joking, and for only that reason did I humor him."
State and federal laws govern elections. Sternbeck said he wasn't sure if local police had reached out to other agencies at this point.
The election is less than two weeks away. But that doesn't mean police necessarily have a deadline, Sternbeck said.
"It's our responsibility is to conduct a thorough investigation," he said.
Theo Stamos, the commonwealth's attorney for Arlington and Falls Church, declined to comment.
"That statement is that all that can be said publicly," Stamos said, citing Thursday's two-sentence news release. "It would be completely inappropriate to comment in any way on an investigation that is ongoing, which this clearly is."
Stamos, a Democratic elected official, would not say the extent her office would be involved in the investigation and any potential prosecution of Patrick Moran.
Last year, Stamos and then-Commonwealth's Attorney Dick Trodden asked a judge to grant a special prosecutor to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest in a case involving a Falls Church political activist whom she had met through a mutual acquaintance.
In a radio interview recorded Thursday on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," Arlington County Republican Committee Chairman Charles Hokanson called on Jim Moran to resign.
“Speaking as a citizen and voter, every Arlingtonian should be concerned about attempts to destroy the integrity of the democratic process and to steal elections by illegal and unethical behavior,” Hokanson said, according to a news release.
“Reflecting on the broader implications of this potential voter fraud scandal, this really should be the scandal that finally crosses the line, even for Jim Moran, so that he should resign from Congress and leave public office immediately.
“The people of Arlington — Republicans, Democrats and Independents — will not tolerate potential voter fraud, and we demand of all our officials that they preserve the full integrity of our voting process, which has been held to a very high standard in this county. This is not our way. It’s time for Jim Moran to go — by resignation in disgrace, or by voter indignation at the voting booth on November 6.”
Earlier this week, Jim Moran and Reps. Bobby Scott and Gerry Connolly called on the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct a multi-state investigation following an incident in the Shenandoah Valley where a man allegedly threw a stack of voter registration forms in the trash.
Colin Small, a 31-year-old man working for the state Republican Party under contract, now faces 13 felony and misdemeanor counts of voter registration fraud in that case, according to NBC4.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is investigating that matter at the request of the State Board of Elections, according to the (Hampton Roads) Daily Press.
Cuccinelli stated in a letter this week that he lacks the authority to investigate elections matters until formally asked to do so by the State Board of Elections, a local commonwealth's attorney, or a local electoral board member, according to NBC4.
A message sent to the State Board of Elections was not immediately returned Thursday afternoon. Messages left with Jim Moran's congressional office and campaign were not immediately returned.
The video above contains strong language.
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