By now you’ve probably read about Nathan Larson, the admitted pedophile and incest supporter who’s running for Congress. Fox News and conservative media have been making an issue about former Governor Terry McAuliffe restoring his right to vote and run for office. Only there’s one problem:
I could not find evidence that McAuliffe restored his rights. UPDATE: it appears that McAuliffe issued a restoration of rights order in January 2017, but Larson registered and voted in 2016. So, either McAuliffe’s order was unnecessary because Larson was already restored in Colorado, or Larson did need to be restored but committed voter fraud by registering and voting in 2016 prior to the restoration.
If you just ate, you may want to wait a while before reading. I took a look at this issue because Larson reportedly has filed to be on the ballot in the hotly contested 10th Congressional District, not in the 1st district where he lives. So here’s the story:
- Freedom-loving, anti-government Colorado libertarian Nathan Larson sent an email to the Secret Service in 2008 claiming that he wanted to kill the President. He was sentenced in 2009 to 16 months in federal prison.
- According to one of Larson’s supporters at the time, Larson was incarcerated in Colorado, released in 2010, but then declared to his probation officer that he would not comply with the conditions of supervised release, and so was then re-incarcerated at a federal prison in Petersburg, VA. (This is an important point because residence would determine which state would need to restore one’s rights.)
- Larson was released from prison on October 2, 2013, according to the federal inmate locator.
- Here’s where things get much, much worse. Larson returned to Colorado in 2013 or 2014 and fathered a child. But after reportedly abusing his wife and stating he wanted to have sexual relations with their unborn child, his wife secured a restraining order against him. A custody battle ensued (the child is now with maternal grandparents) and Larson’s wife, who later became a transgender man, committed suicide.
- At some point during this legal battle, Larson returned to Virginia to live with his parents in Catlett. He ran for 31st District House of Delegates in 2017, receiving 481 votes. Republican Gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie used Larson’s candidacy to launch an attack McAuliffe’s policy on restoration of rights.
- Last week, Larson received widespread attention after a report in the Huffington Post about his candidacy — and then outfits such as Fox News and the Daily Caller took the McAuliffe aspect of the story and made it their headline.
The problem with a lot of this reporting is that everyone, perhaps even Larson himself, believes that his rights were restored by the Governor,
but this might be untrue [UPDATE: Larson was found on the list published in 2018, indicating a 2017 restoration after the date of his voter registration.] The Governor is constitutionally mandated to report annually to the General Assembly the names of all people whose rights he restored in the previous year. I checked the reports from 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Larson’s name is not on any of them. (He registered to vote in May 2016.) UPDATE: He was found on the 2018 list which I hadn’t checked earlier because his registration date was May 2016. See comment below from “Jean Valjean” (likely Larson himself) posting the certificate for restoration of rights.
Had Larson remained in Virginia, even with an out of state conviction he would likely need to have his rights restored here since it was a federal offense. But as the reporting indicates, Larson returned to Colorado prior to 2015. Colorado, like many states, restores rights after parole is completed. So what’s most likely is that Larson regained his rights in Colorado before returning to Virginia. Since the charge was from out of state, he would not have been included in McAuliffe’s automatic restoration order unless he requested it —
and, again, there is no record of his restoration here. UPDATE: Larson received a restoration order in January 2017, after having already registered and voted in 2016 — meaning either the restoration was unnecessary or he committed voter fraud.
Other reporting has been inaccurate or misleading, such as obscuring or belatedly acknowledging the fact that, according to the US Constitution, you don’t have to be a registered voter to run for Congress. Also, several reports said that Larson lives in Charlottesville.
So what’s really at issue here? Nathan Larson is clearly a menace and needs to be institutionalized, yes. Additionally, conservatives are once again taking the issue of restoration for ex-offenders and looking for a way to attack Democrats for trying to make Virginia more like the rest of the country (excepting several states like Florida). Almost everywhere, you get your rights back at some point after your sentence is completed. Are people in Utah clamoring to move to a system where rights are lost forever unless restored by the Governor? No. Have Maine and Vermont fallen into the sea because felons can still vote from prison? No. This should be a non-issue because restoration of rights is routine and creeps vote and run for office all the time. The only danger is if they get elected.
Larson is going to lose because he is human scum. You’re going to see more stories blaming Democrats for his candidacy because people will notice if he’s on the ballot. Refute them with facts and then we move on to electing a Democrat in VA-10. Maybe Larson can get the Roy Moore supporters’ vote and peel off a few votes from Barbara Comstock.