Law­mak­ers dif­fer on Fair­fax fate

Se­na­tor hes­i­tates to call for LG’s res­ig­na­tion; del­e­gate asks for it, but both wary of im­peach­ment threats

The Progress-Index - - FRONT PAGE - By Bill Atkin­son As­sis­tant Editor

State Sen. Amanda F. Chase ad­mits she is “very trou­bled” by sep­a­rate al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual abuse against Lt. Gov. Justin E. Fair­fax, but she is not adding her name to the list of politi­cians call­ing for the Demo­crat to step down.

And while Del. Lashrecse D. Aird is one of those who has stated that Fair­fax should re­sign, she does not want pos­si­ble at­tempts to im­peach him to turn the re­main­ing weeks of the 2019 leg­isla­tive ses­sion into “a political spec­ta­cle.”

Last week, Fair­fax was ac­cused by two women of sex­ual abuse on two dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions as far back as 19 years ago. The first al­le­ga­tion came from Dr. Vanessa Tyson, a Cal­i­for­nia pro­fes­sor who claims Fair­fax forcibly as­saulted her dur­ing the 2004 Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion in Bos­ton. Later in the week, a sec­ond ac­cu­sa­tion came from Mered­ith Wil­son claim­ing that Fair­fax raped her in 2000 at Duke Univer­sity. Fair­fax has ve­he­mently de­nied the charges and vows to not re­sign.

Chase, R-Ch­ester­field, said Sun­day af­ter­noon that she did not want to pass judg­ment on Fair­fax un­til all the facts were in be­cause that is how she would want to be treated.

“I’m still wait­ing to hear all of the de­tails,” Chase said. “I’m very much a due­pro­cess per­son, and ev­ery per­son de­serves to have all of the facts heard. I cer­tainly would want them to do the same for me.”

In a week­end tweet, Aird, D-Peters­burg, called for Fair­fax’s res­ig­na­tion “due to the se­ri­ous­ness of these al­le­ga­tions and all that is re­quired in the in­ves­ti­ga­tions he has called for.”

How­ever, both law­mak­ers said they were not keen on a call by Del. Pa­trick A. Hope, D-Ar­ling­ton, for Fair­fax to be

im­peached if he does not step down by Mon­day.

“I take im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings very se­ri­ously, and I do not think this meets the thresh­old,” Aird said Sun­day.

She said that as the leg­isla­tive ses­sion winds down, law­mak­ers should be fo­cused on do­ing Vir­ginia’s busi­ness “and not en­ter­tain­ing a political spec­ta­cle.”

Chase said she, too, is un­fazed by any im­peach­ment talk, call­ing it “a bit ex­treme.”

Ac­cord­ing to Ar­ti­cle IV of the Vir­ginia Con­sti­tu­tion, a lieu­tenant gover­nor can be im­peached for “malfea­sance in of­fice, cor­rup­tion, ne­glect of duty, or other high crime or mis­de­meanor.”

Im­peach­ment charges would be filed in the House of Del­e­gates and tried in the Vir­ginia Se­nate.

At least two-thirds of the Se­nate must vote for re­moval from of­fice.

Mean­while, the cho­rus of calls for Fair­fax to

Ac­cord­ing to Ar­ti­cle IV of the Vir­ginia Con­sti­tu­tion, a lieu­tenant gover­nor can be im­peached for “malfea­sance in of­fice, cor­rup­tion, ne­glect of duty, or other high crime or mis­de­meanor.” Im­peach­ment charges would be filed in the House of Del­e­gates and tried in the Vir­ginia Se­nate. At least two-thirds of the Se­nate must vote for re­moval from of­fice.

step down con­tin­ues to in­ten­sify.

Much of Vir­ginia’s con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion — in­clud­ing Democrats — want him to re­sign, as do state law­mak­ers on both sides of the aisle.

Over the week­end, House Speaker M. Kirk­land Cox, R-Colo­nial Heights, asked Fair­fax to re­sign im­me­di­ately, call­ing his abil­ity to serve “per­ma­nently im­paired” and say­ing it “is in the best in­ter­ests of the com­mon­wealth for him to re­sign.”

How­ever, a spokesman for Cox de­clined com­ment on the im­peach­ment calls by Hope. “That’s all we are say­ing at this time,” Parker Slay­baugh said in a text, re­fer­ring to the res­ig­na­tion call.

The sec­ond ac­cu­sa­tion against Fair­fax capped a week filled with drama for Vir­ginia Democrats. Gov. Ralph S. Northam is swat­ting away calls for his res­ig­na­tion af­ter it was re­vealed a photo of two men, one in black­face and the other in Ku Klux Klan robes, ap­peared on his 1984 med­i­cal-school year­book.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Mark R. Her­ring also ad­mit­ted dur­ing the week that he wore black­face to a 1980 party at the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia cel­e­brat­ing rap­pers and rap mu­sic, although no pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence has sur­faced.

Her­ring has left open the pos­si­bil­ity of re­sign­ing.

Both Democrats and Repub­li­cans have called for Northam and Her­ring to re­sign.

Chase

Aird

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