Virginia Dem Congressional Candidate Crashed Friend's Tesla and Then Skipped Out on Repair Bills

Friend tried to serve political newcomer Krystle Kaul with subpoena but was unsuccessful

(Krystle Kaul campaign ad, YouTube)
June 6, 2024

A Democratic congressional candidate ignored court subpoenas last year after allegedly crashing her friend's brand-new Tesla and skipping out on the repair bills, according to interviews and court records obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Political newcomer Krystle Kaul—who drew press attention this spring after taking the fundraising lead in the competitive race in Virginia's 10th Congressional District—is accused of borrowing and damaging her friend's car and then ghosting the friend.

Kaul initially "apologized and promised she would repair it with a cash payment," her former friend and neighbor Yasmine El-Melehy said in a small-claim lawsuit last year.

"After the cost of the damage was apparent to her, Krystle severed communications with me[,] clearly indicating her decision to not take responsibility for the damages," said El-Melehy.

Court records show that process servers attempted to serve Kaul with a subpoena in the case several times at multiple addresses where the candidate was living in the Washington, D.C., area, without success. El-Melehy also sent copies of the subpoena to Kaul's cell phone. Because service was unsuccessful, the lawsuit was dismissed last year.

The news comes as Kaul has faced questions over her unusual fundraising reports. The political newcomer drew scrutiny this spring after raising nearly $1 million, taking the financial lead in the competitive race to replace retiring Virginia Democratic representative Jennifer Wexton.

But, as the New York Times reported, the majority of that cash came from Kaul herself, who told the paper that she drained her personal bank account and poured over $500,000 into her own campaign.

According to the lawsuit, Kaul borrowed El-Melehy's new Tesla Model Y in August 2021. El-Melehy told the Free Beacon that the Tesla's camera captured Kaul damaging the car's rear while backing up.

"Krystle would ignore communication with me for long periods of time[,] coming with excuses that she was busy traveling across the world," said El-Melehy in a court filing. "On occasion, she would communicate with me and explain how she was busy but also stressing that the estimates were too expensive and she doesn't think that the damage should cost so much."

El-Melehy told the Free Beacon that she was frustrated that Kaul was able to avoid the subpoenas, resulting in the case's dismissal. She said she wants to reopen the suit if she is able to locate Kaul.

"We tried to serve her, like, three times," said El-Melehy. "I'm gonna serve her again, because I'm still in the statute of limitation."

Kaul did not respond to the Free Beacon's request for comment.

While Kaul's fundraising reports boosted her profile in the race, her background is still relatively unknown to residents in Virginia's 10th district, where she moved last year.

Property records show Kaul was claiming a homestead tax exemption on her Washington, D.C., condo until at least February 2023, indicating that it was her primary residence.

While Kaul has touted her "proud" residency in the district—she describes herself as the "only woman running who lives in Loudoun"—she first registered to vote in the district on Oct. 10, 2023, Loudoun County's office of elections told the Free Beacon.

Kaul filed to run for the open House seat three days later, records show. After launching her campaign, she re-registered her defense consulting company, Krystle Klear Communications LLC, in the 10th district. Prior to that, the company was registered in Florida and Washington, D.C.

Some of her biographical claims also raise questions. On her fundraising page, Kaul describes herself as a former "director" at the Air Force. The Air Force said it has no record of her civilian employment, and Kaul's LinkedIn profile indicates that she was working for an outside contractor with the Air Force at the time.

Kaul said she also obtained an "MA/PhD" from Brown University. The school told the Free Beacon that Kaul earned a master's degree, but not a Ph.D., in 2013 and hasn't been enrolled since then.

Kaul also described herself as an "MIT Professor (2U)." A spokeswoman for MIT said that "Kaul is not a professor at MIT." The spokeswoman said Kaul works part-time as a "lead learning facilitator" with 2U, a for-profit education company that partners with MIT on online learning programs.

The hotly contested race to replace retiring Wexton has drawn a dozen Democratic candidates, including likely frontrunners Eileen Filler-Corn, Dan Helmer, and Suhas Subramanyam. Four Republicans are also running. The primary elections will take place on June 18.