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Newscast 11.13.2023: Voting fraud trial of wife of Woodbury County Supervisor is underway in Sioux City

Woodbury County Courthouse, Sioux City, Iowa
Woodbury County Courthouse, Sioux City, Iowa

SIOUX CITY — The federal trial of the wife of a Woodbury County elected official accused of voter fraud began Monday, as her husband, Jeremy Taylor, observed the legal proceedings, a few days after court documents revealed he has been named as an unindicted co-conspirator.

Kim Phuong Taylor was arrested in January and pleaded not guilty to 52 counts of voter fraud. Prosecutors say she filled out and cast absentee ballots in her husband’s unsuccessful run for the Republican nomination for Congress and his winning Woodbury County Board of Supervisors race in 2020.

The indictment alleges the crimes involved obtaining the votes of members of Sioux City’s Vietnamese community, who had limited ability to read and understand English. Kim Taylor is native of Vietnam.

Federal prosecutor Lauren Castaldi in an opening statement Monday at the Federal Building in Sioux City said Kim Taylor’s actions jeopardized fair elections: "It was entirely self-interested. She wanted her husband to win elections by any means necessary.”

The prosecutor said Taylor forged voting documents, such as absentee early voting ballots, and cast ballots for her husband. Castaldi said that Taylor at times would withhold translating key information associated with obtaining and casting absentee ballots, such as that it is illegal to cast a ballot for another person.

Castaldi said some of the voting irregularities were discovered when two Vietnamese young people attending Iowa State University went to vote in the 2020 election, and were shocked to be told they had already submitted an absentee ballot.

Kim Taylor’s defense attorney, F. Montgomery Brown, derided the government’s case, saying, “they got it wrong.”

“There was no scheme to defraud anyone,” Brown said.

He said Taylor runs a hair salon and has long been known for helping Vietnamese people in the Sioux City community, such as helping them understand banking and the voting process.

“That’s who she is, she is helpful,” Brown said.

Court documents show federal prosecutors are expected to call around 20 witnesses, including Woodbury County Sheriff Chad Sheehan and former supervisor and current state lawmaker Rocky De Witt. They are expected to testify that Jeremy Taylor said he had a “lock” on a substantial number of votes from the Vietnamese community, so if the sheriff donated to Taylor’s campaign, he would get between 500 to 700 votes from the Vietnamese community.

Brown said there’s bad blood between the Taylors and other Woodbury County officials, including Sheehan, and Auditor Pat Gill, the county’s sole elected Democrat.

If convicted, Kim Taylor faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for each count. Judge Leonard Strand said the trial is expected to last several weeks, beyond the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

In January 2020 the Woodbury County Auditor ruled Taylor could no longer hold his supervisor position because he was not living at the address listed on his voter registration, thereby living outside the county board district, and violating a state law. Taylor then resigned that post, before changing the address of his residence on his voter registration to a second Sioux City home owned, and then won a new position on the board in a different district later in November 2020.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story omitted the name of Lauren Castaldi.