The Democratic members of the Virginia congressional delegation said Thursday they are “devastated” by the growing scandal in Richmond that has ensnared the Democratic governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general of their state.
“Like other Virginians, we have been devastated by these horrible developments,” Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerMarch tariff increase would cost 934K jobs, advocacy group says Record profits put new bull’s-eye on tech giants Press: Time for Ralph Northam to go MORE and Tim Kaime and Reps. Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottAides say Virginia Democrat knew about sexual assault allegation against lt. governor Schumer calls on Northam to resign The Hill’s Morning Report — Will Ralph Northam survive? MORE, Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyFox News’s Napolitano: Democrats want Northam to resign so they can ‘tarnish Trump as a racist’ Virginia Democrat says Northam is ‘man without a country right now’ Virginia Lt. Gov. declines to say Northam should resign MORE, Don Beyer, A. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinVirginia in tumult as top Democrats engulfed in controversy Congressional Black Caucus leaders call on Northam to resign Support for Northam withers as Dems urge him to step down MORE, Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaRep. Bobby Scott: Northam’s KKK-blackface yearbook photo ‘indefensible’ Dem bill would let essential workers collect unemployment during shutdown GOP seeks to change narrative in shutdown fight MORE, Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerHouse passes bill expressing support for NATO On The Money: Shutdown Day 25 | Dems reject White House invite for talks | Leaders nix recess with no deal | McConnell blocks second House Dem funding bill | IRS workers called back for tax-filing season | Senate bucks Trump on Russia sanctions Democrats turn down White House invitation for shutdown talks MORE and Jennifer WextonJennifer Lynn WextonVirginia Speaker: ‘Our work continues unimpeded’ by controversies Dem congresswoman: ‘I believe’ Fairfax’s accuser Support for Northam withers as Dems urge him to step down MORE wrote in a joint statement. “There’s no question that Virginians’ faith in their government and leaders has understandably been deeply shaken.”
Old Dominion’s leadership in Richmond has been embroiled in a nearly week-long scandal that started when a picture from Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D-Va.) medical school yearbook page emerged showing a man in blackface and another person in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood.
Northam apologized Friday, admitting he was one of the two people. He then reversed course Saturday, saying he did not appear in the picture but did wear blackface during a 1984 dance competition.
He has so far resisted an avalanche of bipartisan calls, saying he intends to serve out the remainder of his term. Among those calling for Northam’s ouster was state Attorney General Mark Herring, who Wednesday preemptively admitted that he too wore blackface to a party while he was an undergraduate in college.
“We are brokenhearted that the actions of Governor Northam and Attorney General Herring have reopened old wounds left by Virginia’s long history of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and systemic racism,” the Virginia delegation said. “We have each publicly called for Governor Northam to resign.”
“Yesterday, we were shocked and saddened to learn of the incident in the Attorney General’s past. The Attorney General has earnestly reached out to each of us to apologize and express his deep remorse. We understand that he is currently engaged in in-depth discussions with leaders and others in Virginia. The Attorney General must continue those conversations, and stand ready to answer questions from the public if he is to regain their trust.”
Vanessa Tyson also issued a statement Wednesday detailing what she says was a sexual assault perpetrated by Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax in 2004.
“What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault,” Tyson, a college professor from California, said in the statement. “Mr. Fairfax forced me to perform oral sex on him.”
Fairfax issued a statement earlier Wednesday maintaining that his interaction with Tyson was consensual.
“At no time did she express to me any discomfort or concern about our interactions, neither during that encounter nor doing the months following it, when she stayed in touch with me, nor the past fifteen years,” Fairfax said in the statement. “She in no way indicated that anything that had happened between us made her uncomfortable.”
While many in Washington and Richmond were at first hesitant to weigh in on Tyson’s claims, a growing number of politicians began expressing support for her after her detailed statement Wednesday.
“We are deeply disturbed by the account detailing the alleged actions of Lieutenant Governor Fairfax. We believe these allegations need to be taken very seriously, and we respect the right of women to come forward and be heard,” the Virginia delegation said.
The scandal embroiling the top three officials in Virginia has thrust Republican Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox into the spotlight. Cox gained his role after a coin toss decided which party controlled the legislative body.
The Virginia delegation members promised to keep itself appraised of the situation in Richmond and remain in dialogue with one another.
“We will continue in dialogue with one another and our constituents in the coming days, and evaluate additional information as it comes to light.”