Newscast 11.15.2023: As voter fraud trial of Sioux City woman continues, judge warns her mother to stop speaking to upcoming prosecution witnesses
SIOUX CITY — Day three of the federal trial of a Sioux City woman accused of voter fraud continued Wednesday, when several people testified that the signatures on voting-related materials by them were not written by them, and the judge told the mother of the defendant to stop talking to witnesses waiting to testify.
After a morning break and as the jury was about to be brought back to resume the trial, one of the federal prosecuting attorneys told Judge Leonard Strand that a court marshal had seen the mother of defendant Kim Phuong Taylor speaking to witnesses just outside the courtroom.
Attorney Richard Evans related that Taylor’s mother was heard saying “to testify truthfully, but her daughter is facing up to 20 years in prison.” Evans asked that the mother not be able to continue to observe the trial in the courtroom, a step that Strand did not put in place. But the judge warned the woman to no longer continue to talk to witnesses, or she would face contempt of court charges.
Kim Taylor, who is married to a Woodbury County Board of Supervisors member Jeremy 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 also 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.
The prosecutors have said Taylor, a native of Vietnam, forged voting documents, such as absentee early voting ballots, and cast ballots for her husband. They 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.
Three members of a family, including father Hoang Luu and sons Andy and Anthony Luu, testified that the signatures on such voting materials as absentee ballot requests and absentee ballot return envelopes were not their signatures. The prosecution showed drivers license copies that displayed the signatures of the three men.
Erica Tuttle, a Woodbury County election employee who worked at a satellite polling place, said she saw Kim Taylor come to that location to help many Vietnamese people get absentee ballots. Tuttle said Taylor attempted to go to the voting booth with people, until being told she could not. On cross examination, Tuttle said she had never seen Taylor cast a ballot on behalf of anyone.
Jeremy Taylor again sat in court and observed the legal proceedings Wednesday, a few days after court documents revealed he has been named as an unindicted co-conspirator.
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, 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, but she did not do what the government alleges.
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. Gill testified Tuesday on how some ballot irregularities made him suspicious of Kim Taylor activities, so he reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into the matter.
If convicted, Taylor faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for each count.