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Del. Mark Cole loses committee seat over bid to nullify Virginia's electoral votes

Del. Mark Cole loses committee seat over bid to nullify Virginia's electoral votes

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2019 Election (copy)

Del. Mark Cole, who is also deputy county administrator in Spotsylvania, is greeted as he arrives at a post-election party at Six Bears and a Goat in 2019.

RICHMOND—House Speaker Eileen Filler–Corn has removed Fredericksburg-area Del. Mark Cole and two other Republicans from committees in response to a letter they sent to Vice President Mike Pence last week asking him to overturn Virginia’s electoral votes.

Cole, who represents parts of Fredericksburg and Stafford, Spotsylvania and Fauquier counties, joined Del. Ronnie Campbell of Rockbridge and David LaRock of Loudoun in asking Pence to reject the “certificate of ascertainment” that was submitted to formally cast Virginia’s electoral votes.

On the opening day of the regular session of the General Assembly Wednesday, Filler–Corn, D–Fairfax, removed Campbell, a former state trooper, from Courts of Justice; LaRock from Transportation; and Cole from Privileges and Elections. When Republicans controlled the House, Cole served as chairman of the elections committee.

“By seeking to disenfranchise millions of Virginians and undercut faith in our democratic institutions, Del. Dave LaRock, Del. Mark Cole and Del. Ronnie Campbell showed exceedingly poor judgment and conducted themselves in a manner unbecoming of their office,” said Kunal Atit, Filler–Corn’s spokesman. “Their attempt to cast doubt on our elections process in order to impede the peaceful transfer of power between one president to another is an affront to our democracy and violates the public trust.”

Contacted by The Free Lance–Star on Thursday, Cole said he was not surprised by the move.

“I figured they would do something,” he said. “It is what it is. The speaker’s free to do whatever she wants to do.”

Cole said he had expected to be taken off the committee immediately after Republicans lost control of the House in the 2019 elections. “I was not one of the favorite chairs of the Democrats,” he said.

The letter sent by the delegates also called into question Virginia’s enactment last year of a law to allow for the use of ballot drop boxes. The letter said that the numerous changes to voting laws—championed by Democrats who made expanding voting rights a priority in their first year of taking control of the legislature—“led to greatly increased opportunities for massive voter fraud and election fraud.”

Days after the presidential election, Campbell posted on his professional Facebook page a link to a petition to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to order a new election, which it can’t do. He asked people to sign the petition, which also called for an election without the use of absentee ballots, which were used by many Americans to avoid voting in person during the coronavirus pandemic.

He also sent an email to constituents saying, “Democrats are trying to steal this election.” The email included a video with Steve Bannon, Trump’s former adviser, discussing conspiracies about the election.

Campbell did not return a request for comment.

LaRock attended the rally in Washington last week. In a statement afterward, he spread the baseless claim that “paid provocateurs” stormed the Capitol. In a response to calls from local leaders in Loudoun County for him to resign, LaRock put out a fundraising email touting his support for Trump.

“Rather than focusing on the business of Loudoun County and the needs of the colored community, they are wasting their time and taxpayer resources to attack me,” the email reads.

Free Lance–Star reporter Scott Shenk contributed to this report.

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