Chapman denounces election-fraud charges

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An anti-tax Republican running for a House seat in Virginia said yesterday election fraud charges filed against him are politically motivated and accused the Republican incumbent of hiring a private investigator to trail him.

Steve H. Chapman called the charges “the politics of personal destruction.”

“These are false allegations stirred up by my entrenched political opponent,” Mr. Chapman said at a press conference outside the Prince William County Courthouse yesterday. “I am fully and completely innocent.”

Mr. Chapman, 27, was indicted this week on a felony charge that he lied on a voter registration form Oct. 1 and on a misdemeanor charge that the following month he voted in a district where he did not reside. He was released on his own recognizance, and a court hearing has been scheduled for 9 a.m. today.

State election law requires candidates to live within the district they are seeking to represent as of the April 15 filing deadline.

Mr. Chapman wants to unseat House Finance Chairman Harry J. Parrish, Manassas Republican, who last year voted in favor of a record $1.38 billion tax increase. Mr. Parrish represents the 50th District, which includes parts of Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

Mr. Chapman said Mr. Parrish had hired an investigator who trailed him for months.

Mr. Parrish, 83, denied any involvement in the case.

“[Neither] I, nor my campaign, has hired any private investigator,” Mr. Parrish told The Washington Times yesterday.

Mr. Chapman’s attorney Gil Davis said he wants to go to trial immediately to clear his client’s name.

“My client is innocent,” said Mr. Davis, who represented Paula Jones in a sexual-harassment case against President Clinton in the 1990s.

Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul B. Ebert did not return a call seeking comment yesterday.

Mr. Chapman said he has lived in three different residences in the past six months. He lived at a home in Woodbridge, which is not part of the 50th District; he rented a room in a residence in Manassas Park, and he purchased a condominium in Manassas where he now lives.

Mr. Chapman provided a document signed by a former landlord that states he paid $250 for rent each month from Sept. 27 through Dec. 27 for the room in Manassas Park.

The felony charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

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