‘Not authentic’ signatures collected for city council campaign under State Police investigation

Published 9:20 pm Monday, July 18, 2022

By Meghan McIntyre

Contributing Writer

Virginia State Police are investigating petition signatures for a candidate seeking a seat on city council, according to the Commonwealth’s Attorney Narendra Pleas.

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Pleas said she is unable to provide any additional information at this time because it is an ongoing investigation.

Suffolk General Registrar Burdette J. Lawrence initially certified Art Bredemeyer as a candidate for the council election after the petition was submitted. Lawrence was later notified of “not authentic” signatures collected by his campaign and turned the case over to law enforcement authorities.

Bredemeyer is a candidate running for the District 2 Suffolk Borough Council seat against John Rector.

William Webb, campaign manager for Rector, said that his name also appeared on the petition, adding that he did not sign it.

A candidate must have 125 of certified voters on a petition to qualify for a city council race in Suffolk, which includes voters’ names, addresses, signatures and date they signed.

Bredemeyer said the individual who was collecting the signatures is under investigation and was only used as a consultant for this part of his campaign.

“I strongly support the investigation of this individual to make sure we protect the integrity of our election process,” he stated. “Because the individual is being investigated by law enforcement authorities and I want to avoid any possible interference, I do not want to give any further comment.”

Bredemeyer previously ran for the city’s mayor in 2012 and then for council in 2018, losing both times, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Suffolk resident Ed White and his sister returned from a trip in Italy and were shocked to learn that their names were on the Bredemeyer petition. He then confirmed these claims when he called the city registrar.

“We were in Europe at the time, so it was absolutely clear that it was not our signature,” White said. “It doesn’t look anything like our signature either.”

White and his sister spoke to neighbors who also found their names on the petition, despite not signing it.

“You’ll notice that somebody took enough time to have different people sign different names and print different addresses on each one of those forms,” White said of the petition.

White and his neighbors want answers as to why this happened. “These are people that do business here in our town,” he said. “It’s just disappointing.”