Censured Virginia senator says AG’s office took her election fraud claims ‘very seriously’

‘They’re very interested,’ says Sen. Amanda Chase

By: and - February 23, 2022 8:32 pm

Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield. (Photo by Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Fifteen months after the 2020 election, Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, is taking her still-unproven claims of election fraud to the office of new Attorney General Jason Miyares, a Republican with the power to pursue alleged violations of election law.

In a Facebook post Tuesday afternoon, Chase published photos of what she said was a meeting with the attorney general’s office to discuss “gross election irregularities.” 

In an interview Wednesday night, Chase, who was censured by the state Senate last year for repeating baseless election conspiracy theories and expressing support for rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol in January 2021, called the meeting “very productive.”

“I would say it was very eye-opening to the people that were in the room,” Chase said. “I think they took it very seriously. They’re very interested.”

The attorney general’s office did not give a direct answer when asked if any action would be taken in response to Chase’s information.

“Senator Chase requested a meeting with staff in the Office of the Attorney General, which oversees election law,” said Miyares spokeswoman Victoria LaCivita. “Our team met with her, as they would any sitting state senator who requests a meeting. The OAG does not comment on specifics of internal meetings.”

A deputy attorney general hired under Miyares to oversee election issues resigned earlier this month after the Washington Post reported she had a history of social media posts praising the Capitol riot and claiming the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.

In response to this week’s meeting, Senate Democrats noted Chase had failed to offer any evidence of fraud during a recent legislative hearing on her bill seeking an extensive audit of the 2020 election.

Contrary to what is spewed on far-right cable news, there has never been evidence of significant voter fraud in the commonwealth or the United States,” Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, said in a news release. “Senator Chase refuses to accept that truth, and wastes our time and taxpayer dollars on unfounded, politically-motivated attempts to subvert the will of the electorate.”

Just before last year’s elections, former Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, called on Chase to submit any purported fraud evidence to his office, saying Chase “has an obligation to bring it to the attention of authorities who can do something about it.”

The attorney general’s office was given new oversight over election issues through a Democratic-backed law creating state-level voting rights protections. That law, approved last year before Democrats’ electoral losses, empowers the attorney general to file civil suits whenever the office has “reasonable cause to believe that a violation of an election law has occurred and that the rights of any voter or group of voters have been affected by such violation.”

Though Republicans campaigned against looser voting laws passed under Democratic control, the 2021 election held under those laws produced a stunning GOP comeback, with the party sweeping contests for statewide office and regaining a majority in the House of Delegates. Republicans lawmakers have still tried to roll back new policies like early voting, ballot drop boxes and looser ID rules, but those efforts have failed in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Chase said she filed numerous amendments to the state budget Wednesday seeking to add more money for “election integrity,” including a proposed $70 million for a “full forensic audit” of the 2020 election.

A risk-limiting audit state election officials conducted a year ago overwhelmingly confirmed President Joe Biden’s 2020 10-point victory in Virginia, finding only a 0.00000065117 percent chance the state’s voting system could have produced an inaccurate outcome.

When asked to describe the information she presented to the attorney general’s office, Chase said she’s planning to hold a news conference soon with all the details. That event, she said, could involve “data engineers” who can better describe her claims.

“It’s highly technical and I don’t want to get anything wrong,” she said.

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Graham Moomaw
Graham Moomaw

A veteran Virginia politics reporter, Graham grew up in Hillsville and Lynchburg, graduating from James Madison University and earning a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Before joining the Mercury in 2019, he spent six years at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, most of that time covering the governor's office, the General Assembly and state politics. He also covered city hall and politics at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville.

Ned Oliver
Ned Oliver

Ned, a Lexington native, has been a fulltime journalist since 2008, beginning at The News-Gazette in Lexington, and including stints at the Berkshire Eagle, in Berkshire County, Mass., and the Times-Dispatch and Style Weekly in Richmond. He is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, in Great Barrington, Mass. He was named Virginia's outstanding journalist for 2020 by the Virginia Press Association.