GOP official’s wife convicted in months-long 2020 voter-fraud scheme

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As Tam and Thien Doan tried to file for absentee ballots in Iowa in 2020, they were surprised to find out that votes had already been cast in their names. The siblings, both Democrats, were even more astonished to learn that their ballots had been cast in support of Republican candidates only, including President Donald Trump, according to court testimony.

Unbeknownst to the Doans, they were among a group of Vietnamese immigrants targeted in a months-long voter-fraud scheme by the wife of an Iowa Republican county supervisor who wanted her husband to win “by any means necessary” in the 2020 primary and general elections, according to prosecutors.

Kim Phuong Taylor was convicted Tuesday of 52 counts of voter fraud, the Justice Department announced. A federal jury in Sioux City, Iowa, found Taylor, 49, guilty on 26 charges of false information in registering and voting, 23 charges of fraudulent voting and three charges of fraudulent registration.

Taylor carried out a scheme to fraudulently generate votes for her husband, Woodbury County Supervisor Jeremy Taylor, who was challenging Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) in the June 2020 congressional GOP primary election. After Jeremy Taylor finished a distant third in that race, Kim Phuong Taylor again engaged in ballot fraud to help her husband’s successful reelection campaign as county supervisor, prosecutors say.

“[Kim Phuong] Taylor submitted or caused others to submit dozens of voter registrations, absentee ballot request forms, and absentee ballots containing false information,” the Justice Department wrote in a news release. “Taylor completed and signed voter forms without voters’ permission and told others that they could sign on behalf of relatives who were not present.”

The story was first reported by Iowa Public Radio.

Kim Phuong Taylor was arrested and indicted in January. She faces a maximum of five years in prison for each of the 52 counts. A sentencing date has not been set, and she will remain free until sentencing, according to an order from U.S. District Judge Leonard Strand.

Neither Jeremy Taylor nor F. Montgomery Brown, Kim Phuong Taylor’s attorney, immediately responded to requests for comment Wednesday. Jeremy Taylor said in a statement to KCAU, an ABC affiliate in Sioux City, that although the conviction was not the outcome for which the family was hoping, the family respects the court for hearing his wife’s story.

“While I plan to continue making decisions that are best for our county’s families, my first priority right now is to deal with today’s results as a private matter in order to be there for my own family, my wife and our children,” he said.

Prosecutors have not specified whether Jeremy Taylor, who still serves on the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors, was aware in advance of the fraud perpetrated by his wife on his behalf or when he learned about it. Jeremy Taylor, who met his wife while teaching at a university in Vietnam, was not charged but was named as an unindicted co-conspirator, according to the Sioux City Journal. The Taylors did not take the stand during the trial.

While many Americans, especially Republicans, have been increasingly fearful that voter fraud is affecting the outcome of elections, it remains extremely rare in the United States, as The Washington Post’s Fact Checker has reported. The fears surrounding voter fraud have been fanned in recent years as Trump and his allies repeated the false and debunked claim that Joe Biden won the presidency in 2020 only because he stole the election.

King, a longtime far-right Republican congressman from Iowa, was challenged by several candidates in the 2020 primary after a controversy in which he questioned whether the term “white supremacy” was offensive and was then stripped of his House committee appointments. Among those challengers was Jeremy Taylor, who had briefly resigned as a county supervisor earlier in the year after his voter registration was revoked because he had purchased a home outside of his district, according to Iowa Public Radio. Jeremy Taylor finished with less than 8 percent of the vote in the Republican congressional primary. King was defeated in the primary by Randy Feenstra, who went on to win King’s seat in the general election.

As Jeremy Taylor hit the campaign trail, his wife also was busy, according to prosecutors. Her defense argued that Kim Phuong Taylor, who is from Vietnam, had been helping voters in Sioux City’s Vietnamese community for over a decade, often with documents not related to elections. But witnesses testified that none of them gave her permission to submit ballots on their behalf during the 2020 elections.

In one instance, Huong Nguyen, the mother of Tam and Thien Doan testified, Kim Phuong Taylor had called her to see if she needed help voting and came to the house to complete the paperwork that Nguyen signed. Nguyen testified that she was unaware that completing ballots for her children was against the law, and assistant U.S. attorney Ron Timmons said during closing arguments that Kim Phuong Taylor “told her to lie” and not tell her children what happened to their ballots.

The exchange became an issue in October 2020, when Woodbury County Auditor and Recorder Pat Gill met with Tam and Thien Doan over returned ballots that the siblings said they had not filled out. Thien Doan was shown his ballot with a signature that was not his, and that was marked as a vote for Trump, according to the Journal.

“I had no intention of voting for Donald Trump in that election,” he said.

Other members of the Vietnamese community testified that Kim Phuong Taylor committed voter fraud against their knowledge. Gill, who also is the election commissioner and the lone Democrat holding elective office in Woodbury County, testified that the handwriting on many of the ballots looked similar but that it was impossible to tell who submitted the ballots.

“It looked like something was going on, but at that point there was nothing I could do,” Gill said.

A few months later, there were several suspicious ballots that he could trace, which led Gill to contact the FBI. Brown, Kim Phuong Taylor’s attorney, claimed during opening statements that a “bias virus” and bad blood between Gill and Jeremy Taylor had sparked the probe.

Jeremy Taylor was reelected to the board of supervisors in November 2020 by less than 5 percentage points, or fewer than 2,000 votes. His term expires in 2024.

After Kim Phuong Taylor was convicted, Brown said he respected the court’s decision, noting that “now is the time for empathy for a family that is suffering,” according to Iowa Public Radio.

Timothy T. Duax, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, celebrated the conviction and denounced Kim Phuong Taylor’s voter fraud to help her husband.

“The right to vote is one of our most important constitutional rights,” he said in a statement. “Ms. Taylor deprived citizens of their right to vote in order to benefit her husband’s campaign.”

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