Virginians reeling as top 3 officials in government embroiled in scandals

Posted February 10, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump predicted Thursday the chaos engulfing the top three officials in Virginia, all Democrats, will help him recapture the coastal Atlantic state when he runs for re-election in 2020.

A series of revelations over the past week have ensnared the governor and attorney general, both of whom admitted to wearing blackface while in college in the 1980s, and the lieutenant governor, accused of a 2004 sexual assault.

The political crisis in Virginia deepened Wednesday with charges against two more top leaders, even as Governor Ralph Northam's career was already in jeopardy over a racist photo.

Rep. Bobby Scott has known about the sex assault allegation against Virginia's lieutenant governor for a year - and used to date the accuser, according to new reports.

His troubles worsened on Wednesday as the woman went public with a detailed version of the 2004 encounter at a Boston hotel. The GOP speaker of the House of Delegates, Kirk Cox, is in line to become governor, and the Republican-controlled House would select a new attorney general.

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Herring, 57, who has served as attorney general since 2014, apologised for what he described as "callous and inexcusable lack of awareness". "But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes - and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others - we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup", he said in a statement.

Lucas said the black lawmakers told Herring they needed to discuss their next steps among themselves.

"This conduct is in no way reflective of the man I have become in the almost 40 years since", he said. While Fairfax has asked for his family and Tyson's family to be respected and given privacy, he has continually stuck to his initial statement that he has nothing to hide.

That stands in stark contrast to the rush of resignation calls for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, also a Democrat, in the wake of a picture featuring two men - one in blackface, the other in Ku Klux Klan robes - appearing on his medical school yearbook page.

After initially apologizing for it, Northam now claims he was not in the photo.

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"In late December 2017 and early January 2018, aides to Scott said he learned that it was Tyson herself who was involved in a 'MeToo allegation, concerning Fairfax".

"At no time did she express to me any discomfort or concern about our interactions, neither during that encounter, nor during the months following it, when she stayed in touch with me, nor the past 15 years", Fairfax said.

Brown earlier Thursday proclaimed February as African-American history month in OR, and said she commented to an education department official at the ceremony that high school graduation rates for African-American students remain low. "As I said in my statement this morning, I have nothing to hide".

"I wish her no harm or humiliation, nor do I seek to denigrate her or diminish her voice".

All we need now is for some lefty version of Ed Whelan to float a half-baked theory about how it was actually Fairfax's buddy who committed the assault, then hastily retract it. They also said that while they appreciated Herring's "candor" in admitting to wearing blackface, they "await further action on his part to reassure the citizens of the Commonwealth of his fitness for leadership".

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Women and racial minorities are two of the party's most reliable voting blocs, and national Democrats have made racial justice and sexual equality key pillars of their agenda, taking a tough line against sexual misconduct or racial insensitivity to try to avoid being accused of hypocrisy in criticizing Trump and Republicans.