Only On 10: Candidate at center of election complaint investigation speaks

Joe Dillard

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – For the first time since news broke about an investigation related to the 89th House of Delegates race, 10 On Your Side spoke to the candidate who is the subject of a letter that launched the investigation.

On Friday, 10 On Your Side spoke to Norfolk activist Michael Muhammad about a letter he wrote to the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Greg Underwood.

In the letter, Muhammad claimed Joe Dillard, a candidate for Norfolk’s 89th house seat, had been approached by the Norfolk Democratic Party Chairman, Linwood Fisher.

The letter states the chairman allegedly offered Dillard $10,000 to not run for delegate.

We made several previous attempts to speak to Dillard about the letter. Late Friday, he issued a statement through his attorney. However on Sunday he agreed to speak only to 10 On Your Side’s Brandi Cummings.

There are some allegations, in the letter, that Dillard would not address because a special prosecutor is now involved. But, he said he wanted to speak out as much as he can because he’s being asked about the letter while out meeting with voters.

“I felt like it was good for me to be transparent and in front of the people in the community and say my peace,” Dillard said.

When 10 On Your Side spoke to Muhammad about the letter Friday, he said, “I know what it’s like to have nobody to stand up and speak for you as Mr. Dillard feels that he doesn’t, and so, in the absence of the strength that he needs to speak, I’ll speak for him.”

Muhammad’s letter is dated March 16.

Citing the current investigation, Dillard would not comment on either of the claims that Fisher allegedly offered Dillard money not to run for delegate or that Fisher approached Dillard on behalf of Norfolk’s Commissioner of the Revenue.

However, according to Dillard, he did meet with Fisher before deciding to seek state office.

“I was offered something to sit for school board – political and financial support for school board – before I made my announcement that I was running for the House of Delegates,” Dillard said.

10 On Your Side spoke to Linwood Fisher on Monday. He told Cummings by phone that he sat down with Dillard, but would not say what the conversation was about.

According to Fisher he sits down with all democratic candidates running for office in Norfolk.

Fisher told Cummings there is no truth to the claim that Dillard was offered $10,000 to drop out.

Dillard says he just wants to move on.

“If my campaign believed that we wanted a request for an investigation my campaign would have released a statement or request to Greg Underwood for that investigation,” Dillard said.

“I would like to really put my head down and get this issue behind me and move forward with knocking on these doors and get my platform out and let the people of the 89th district know that I am the best candidate,” Dillard said.

By phone Monday, Muhammad said he stands by what he wrote in the letter and says he had permission to speak out in public.

Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Doucette is tasked with the investigation.

Joe Dillard faces Jerrauld ‘Jay’ Jones in the Norfolk Democratic Primary on June 13.

At WAVY’s request for comment Jones’ campaign manager Alex Askew issued the following statement:

Our campaign has no involvement with this issue. This seems to be something that involves others outside of our campaign. There is a process in place to investigate whatever happened, and we respect that process. Our campaign is focused solely on meeting with constituents and listening to the concerns of the voters of the 89th district.”

Stay with 10 On Your Side for updates on this story.