Update at 5:50 p.m. — Rep. Moran’s campaign and the state Democratic party have responded to Shuttleworth’s allegations.
When the campaign of Democratic congressional challenger Bruce Shuttleworth was first informed that it had not made the ballot for the upcoming June 12 primary, a spokeswoman said they were “supremely confident that this is nothing more than a minor clerical error.” After all, they had submitted 1,823 petition signatures when only 1,000 were needed to qualify for the ballot.
Today, a day after the Democratic 8th Congressional District Committee reversed itself and allowed Shuttleworth on the ballot, the Arlington businessman held a fiery press conference in Old Town Alexandria to decry what he asserted was “corruption” within the local Democratic party.
Dubbing the incident “Petition-gate,” Shuttleworth ripped in to his Democratic opponent, 11-term incumbent Rep. Jim Moran, accusing Moran and his supporters of having “cheated the people.”
“I think this sordid episode makes it clear that my opponent and his supporters will do anything, resort to almost anything to deny a reasonable choice,” Shuttleworth said to a small crowd of supporters and 2-3 journalists. “What kind of pathetic, smoke-filled backroom, Tammany Hall corruption is going on around here?”
Without giving specifics, Shuttleworth said officials misplaced or lost a portion of his campaign’s petition signatures, leading to the initial determination that he had come up 18 signatures short. Shortly after his campaign filed a federal lawsuit against several officials — including Moran’s brother, Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Brian Moran — Shuttleworth said the missing signatures were found.
“Somewhat less than miraculously, when confronted with a lawsuit, those hard-to-find missing petitions magically showed up,” Shuttleworth said. “It has been made very clear that challenges to the throne are not welcome.”
“They have no right to do this to our Democratic party,” said Shuttleworth, a former U.S. Navy pilot who has declared himself to be a “progressive warrior.”
“After more than a quarter century of Jim Moran at the helm of this party machine, when petitions for getting on the ballot of the United States Congress can be lost or misplaced for one second — one second! – what kind of banana republic is he trying to turn Northern Virginia in to?” Shuttleworth said emphatically. “How can this happen in America? Who will be held accountable?”
“There has been a grotesque miscarriage of justice,” Shuttleworth continued. “Without the recourse of legal action, I would not have made it on this ballot, and your voice would not have been heard… If the full truth in this case is ever revealed, I think voters will be very interested to see who is behind the curtain.”
Shuttleworth said “fighting corruption” was the main reason he entered the race.
“This is exactly the kind of anti-democratic nonsense that encouraged me to run in the first place,” Shuttleworth said. “You will have a choice on June 12th to send an honest man to Congress. This is a battle for the honest leadership of America. I say it’s time to clean house.”
Shuttleworth told ARLnow.com that he will be talking to his attorneys this afternoon about whether to move forward with his lawsuit.