A jury spent about five hours deliberating before convicting Kim Phuong Taylor of 52 counts of election fraud in federal court Tuesday in Sioux City. Taylor faces up to five years in prison on each charge. No sentencing date has been set.
Prosecutors say Taylor took advantage of other Vietnamese immigrants by illegally filling out forms and ballots. Her husband, Jeremy Taylor, lost a GOP primary for the U.S. House of Representatives and won election to the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors in 2020.
After the verdict, Taylor’s attorney, F. Montgomery Brown, said he respected the decision and that “now is the time to show empathy for a suffering family.”
During closing arguments, the prosecution added that the case was important because voter fraud jeopardizes the foundations of democracy in the United States and undermines public trust in the electoral process. They added that Kim Taylor had worked on campaigns since 2008 and knew the difference between right and wrong.
Kim Phuong Taylor was charged in January with 26 counts of providing false information during registration and voting, three counts of fraudulent registration and 23 counts of fraudulent voting. She pleaded not guilty.
The case centered on two elections in 2020
Jeremy Taylor ran in the GOP congressional primary against former Rep. Steve King in June 2020. He came in a distant third behind King and Randy Feenstra, who won the primary and was later elected to the House of Representatives. USA for 4th grade.th District. In November 2020, Taylor was elected to the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors by a margin of two thousand votes, or 5%. He still serves on the board today.
What did the defense say in this case?
During opening statements, Taylor’s defense attorney, F. Montgomery Brown, said the case boiled down to a “bias virus” due to tensions between Jeremy Taylor, who is a Republican, and the Woodbury County Auditor and Elections Commissioner Pat Gill. Gill is the only Democrat to hold public office in Woodbury County. It was he who alerted the authorities to the alleged fraud.
A few years ago, Jeremy Taylor resigned from the Board of Supervisors after controversy surrounding his residency. Taylor owned two homes, including one outside of his neighborhood. Gill ruled that Taylor lived outside his district and revoked his voter registration.
The defense called only a few witnesses to present its case. That testimony included the opinions of three women who knew Taylor through her work as a hairdresser. They said she was a trustworthy person.
During closing arguments, the defense admitted that Kim Taylor made mistakes, but the government has not shown adequate evidence of the existence of a scheme, and get-out-the-vote activities are underwritten by the First Amendment rights.
Election official testified in court
Gill testified early in the trial about how he discovered problems with mail-in ballots and how some signatures and forms appeared to have been filled out by the same person. Because the ballots were separated from the envelopes people signed, it was impossible to know who submitted the ballots.
During the general election, Gill said he was able to trace suspicious ballots. Gill also said he saw Kim and Jeremy Taylor drop off ballots in a drop box outside the Woodbury County Courthouse. He alerted the FBI, who then conducted an investigation.
The prosecution also said evidence showed Taylor’s voter forms had similar handwriting. They showed the jury several voting forms to try to prove their point.
Members of the Vietnamese community share their experiences
Two Iowa State students, Tam and Thien Doan, took the stand and said that when they tried to drop off absentee ballots in Ames, they discovered that someone had already voted on their behalf. They are Democrats, but their votes supported all Republican candidates, including former President Donald Trump. They were able to obtain new ballots in time for the general election.
Their mother, Huong Nguyen, said Kim Taylor called to see if she needed help voting and Taylor filled out the paperwork and the mother signed the ballot. She said she didn’t know filling out voting forms for her children was illegal. She testified that Taylor said it was okay to do so. During closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Timmons said that when the FBI contacted Nguyen, Kim Taylor “told him to lie” and not tell his children what happened to their report cards voting.
Eighty-six-year-old Hai Nguyen of Sioux City, who aided American troops during the Vietnam War, spent more than a decade in a prison in North Vietnam. He arrived in Sioux City in 1993. He said Kim Taylor came to his house and took all the election materials while her husband Jeremy waited in a car. Nguyen admitted to signing his own election documents. However, he said the signatures of other people who lived in his house appeared to have been signed by someone else.
Defense attorney Brown said during opening statements that Kim Taylor would help the immigrants translate the documents. But Nguyen said Taylor only showed up to help with voting materials.
Mihn Pan Do Pham, a Des Moines-area firefighter, said he wasn’t even a resident of Iowa at the time the election paperwork was filled out for him without his knowledge.
Other members of the Vietnamese community also spoke.
Kim Taylor’s mother caused an issue around the trial
Kim Taylor’s mother was present in the courtroom throughout the trial. She was warned by U.S. Chief Judge Leonard Strand not to have contact with any of the witnesses after she was seen speaking with witnesses during a break and told them that her daughter, Kim Taylor, faced 200 years prison if found guilty. The prosecution requested that the mother be removed from the courtroom. The judge did not do so, but said that if the mother continued to speak to witnesses, she could face a contempt of court charge.
Who didn’t testify?
Court documents say Woodbury County Sheriff Chad Sheehan was going to testify about comments Jeremy Taylor made to him while Sheehan was running for sheriff in 2020. Sheehan says Taylor told him he had a ” lock” on the vote in the Vietnamese community and for a campaign. Thanks to a donation, he could obtain 500 to 700 votes for the future sheriff. Although Brown said Sheehan would appear during the trial, he did not, nor did former Woodbury County Supervisor Rocky DeWitt. Brown said Jeremy Taylor denied both men raises.
Jeremy Taylor named as unindicted co-conspirator in court documents
IPR News reached out to retired federal judge Mark Bennett, who served as a district judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, for the meaning of an unindicted co-conspirator. Bennett is now director of the Institute for Justice Reform and Innovation at Drake University. Bennett, who has not commented on the details of the Taylor trial, said it could mean different things when someone is named as an unindicted co-conspirator.
First, there may not be enough evidence to charge someone with a crime. But there may be other reasons that are part of the prosecution’s strategy. Bennett asserts that there is evidence that can be admitted under the co-conspirator hearsay exception.
This hearsay exception could have come into play if Woodbury County Sheriff Chad Sheehan had testified about comments he said were made by Jeremy Taylor.
The trial proceeded quickly
Testimony in this case proceeded more quickly than expected. Judge Strand told the jury the trial could last a dozen days. But both sides rested after five days of legal proceedings. The prosecution spent more than three days presenting its arguments, the defense about an hour. Kim Taylor did not take the stand.