Virginia's Political Mess Just Got Even Worse

As governor ponders resignation, lieutenant governor fends off accusations of his own
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2019 1:02 PM CST
Virginia's Political Mess Just Got Even Worse
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax speaks during an interview in his office at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Fairfax answered questions about the controversial photo in Gov. Ralph Northam's yearbook page.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Virginia politics was in turmoil Monday, with the governor fending off calls to resign and his lieutenant governor forcefully denying sexual assault allegations. The accusations against Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam have been swirling for days, ever since a photo emerged of a person in blackface and another person in KKK garb on Northam's 1984 medical school yearbook page. Northdam denies that either person is him. If Northam does resign, he would be replaced by Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who would become the state's second black governor, reports the AP. However, Fairfax also finds himself at the center of controversy. On Monday, he threatened legal action against a right-wing site, Big League Politics, after it ran a sexual assault allegation against him dating back to 2004, reports the Richmond Post-Dispatch. The BLP site also was the first to run the Northam photo.

Fairfax's female accuser describes a forced sexual encounter in a hotel room, while Fairfax describes it as consensual. The Washington Post investigated the story previously but opted not to run it because it found nobody to corroborate it. The Post also found no similar allegations against Fairfax. However, the newspaper makes a point to say it did not find “significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegation,” as a statement from Fairfax asserts. The same statement declares that Fairfax "has never assaulted anyone—ever—in any way, shape, or form." The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, has a story about Big League Politics, which it describes as a "scrappy, pro-Trump outfit backed by Republican operatives." (Northam explained his shifting statements about the yearbook photo.)

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