Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax appeared headed on a political collision course Sunday with a little-known state delegate from his personal occasion who pledged to introduce articles of impeachment Monday if the 39-year-old Democrat refused to resign.
Fairfax is one among three high Virginia political leaders engulfed in a firestorm of scandal. Gov. Ralph Northam and Lawyer Basic Mark Herring, additionally Democrats, admitted sporting blackface at events within the 1980s, whereas Fairfax confronted accusations of sexual assault he repeatedly has denied.
Del. Patrick Hope stated the state structure “states very clearly that impeachment ought to be for top crimes and misdemeanors. There is no such thing as a query that violent sexual assault clearly qualifies as excessive crime.”
College of Richmond regulation professor Carl Tobias says the Home might impeach Fairfax provided that the GOP appears to “understand little draw back” to it.
“If Fairfax is impeached, it stays unclear whether or not the Senate would convict,” Tobias informed USA TODAY. “A two-thirds vote is wanted, and that will rely on the proof provided.”
Fairfax reaffirmed his innocence Saturday and his intention to stay in workplace. He known as for “house on this second for due course of” and for an FBI investigation. The FBI declined to remark.
Fairfax’s assertion got here hours after the state Democratic Get together joined the refrain of calls for his resignation. Chair Susan Swecker stated that in mild of the “credible nature” of the most recent claims in opposition to Fairfax, “it has turn into clear that he can not fulfill the duties and duties of his put up.”
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus additionally has known as for Fairfax to step down.
Fairfax, who would succeed Northam if the governor resigns, was accused final week of sexual assault by a former colleague at the Democratic Nationwide Conference in Boston in 2004. Fairfax strongly denied the costs made by Vanessa Tyson, a political science professor at Scripps School in California.
Legal professionals for Fairfax’s second accuser, Meredith Watson, launched an announcement days later saying Fairfax raped her whereas they had been college students at Duke College in 2000. Watson additionally stated she can be keen to testify at an impeachment listening to.
Regardless of the requires his resignation, solely Hope has pledged to hunt impeachment. Hope is a fifth-term delegate from Arlington, among the many most liberal districts within the state. Hope, a well being care lawyer and a married father of three, stated that “as the daddy of three younger ladies I can’t stand by silently.”
However with simply two weeks left within the legislative session and the governor additionally battling to maintain his job, it was not clear how far Hope’s impeachment push would go.
The accusations in opposition to Fairfax got here to mild days after a photograph surfaced from Northam’s web page in a 1984 medical college yearbook displaying a person in blackface standing by a person wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit. Northam at first admitted he was within the photograph, then denied it however acknowledged utilizing blackface in impersonating Michael Jackson in a dance contest that very same 12 months.
Northam has refused widespread requires his resignation. A ballot by The Washington Publish and the Schar Faculty at George Mason College prompt that 47 p.c of Virginians need Northam to resign, and 47 p.c consider he ought to stay in workplace.
In his first interview for the reason that scandal erupted, Northam told The Post on Saturday that he had “overreacted” by placing out an announcement taking blame for the image. He stated Japanese Virginia Medical Faculty is doing an “impartial investigation” into the image.
Northam stated he wished to focus the remainder of his time period on racial equality.