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Politics & Policy

Virginia Democrats: Justin Fairfax Should Resign, But We Shouldn’t Investigate Him

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax speaks on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., November 7, 2017. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

The allegations against Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax — as well as the scandals of Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring — put Virginia’s Democratic state legislators in a tough spot, but they’re not doing themselves any favors. For several weeks, Republicans in the state legislature have been attempting to work out a deal to hold a hearing before the state senate’s Courts of Justice committee regarding the allegations of sexual assault against Fairfax.

House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn responded to her Republican colleagues with the declaration that her caucus believes Fairfax should resign . . .  but that the state legislature should not investigate the allegations:

The House Democratic Caucus believes that the allegations against Lieutenant Governor Fairfax are extremely serious. As such, the House Democratic Caucus called on him to resign. We also believe that Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson’s voices should be heard and in a forum that is free of partisan politics and preserves the rule of law. Law enforcement officials are best equipped to investigate these matters, and we certainly would not want to harm their inquiries or deny due process to either the complainants or the Lieutenant Governor by conducting a hearing that could easily be exploited for political purposes.

Both accusers told CBS News that they are willing to testify before the state legislature. Watson said in her interviewI want the people of Virginia to know the truth. And I would like the Virginia legislature to do the right thing.

Filler-Corn said that Democrats in the state legislature are open to some other entity holding hearings and receiving the testimony of Tyson and Watson, but did not offer much guidance on what that entity would be:

Given the expressed desire of Dr. Tyson and Ms. Watson that they want an opportunity to be heard, we remain open to discussing the option of engaging an independent, third party entity to conduct a hearing while taking into consideration fairness and due process for all involved in a non-political, professional and safe environment in a manner that would not impede or compromise any possible ongoing investigation.

The position of Filler-Corn and the other Democrats makes little sense.

They’re suggesting the hearings would create a rush to judgment against a man who they’ve already called upon to resign. On February 8, the Virginia Democratic Party declared Fairfax can no longer fulfill his duties to the Commonwealth. Did Fairfax somehow become able to fulfill his duties again in their eyes in the interim? Just how would a hearing — where Fairfax and his legal counsel could respond to the charges — make things worse?

And they’re fine with some other institution holding hearings on the matter, just not the state legislature. What other institution would they prefer?

Add it all up, and it sounds like a state party that was happy that the controversy was starting to be forgotten and is irritated that the state has been reminded about the allegations.


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