[guest post by Dana]
As the embroiled governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam continues to ignore Democrats calling for his resignation as a result of his
shameful support of infanticide uncovered racist photographs from his college yearbook, his would-be successor, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is now facing his own public relations catastrophe as he faces an accusation of sexual misconduct by a college professor:
A woman named Vanessa Tyson, who is a fellow at Stanford University, says that a man who allegedly sexually assaulted her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention is now an office-holder about to get a “very big promotion,” according to a screenshot provided by a tipster. A friend of Tyson’s named Adria Scharf, based in Richmond, Virginia, shared the “heartbreaking” message, which Tyson wrote as a private post.
Tyson is a fellow at California-based Stanford University and professor at California-based Scripps College, which means the alleged sexual assaulter must hold office on the East Coast. Tyson says her alleged attacker won statewide office in 2017.
Fairfax strongly denied the allegation:
After being presented with the facts consistent with the Lt. Governor’s denial of the allegations, the absence of any evidence corroborrating the allegation, and significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegation, the Post made the considered decision not to publish the story.
The Washington Post could not find anyone who could corroborate either version. The Post did not find “significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegations,” as the Fairfax statement incorrectly said.
While Fairfax claims that the encounter with Tyson was consensual, she offered a different version:
The woman described a sexual encounter that began with consensual kissing and ended with a forced act that left her crying and shaken. She said Fairfax guided her to the bed, where they continued kissing, and then at one point she realized she could not move her neck. She said Fairfax used his strength to force her to perform oral sex.
No similar complaints against Fairfax were uncovered during the Washington Post’s investigation, and as a result said that “Without that, or the ability to corroborate the woman’s account — in part because she had not told anyone what happened — The Washington Post did not run a story.”
The Post, on why they published now:
“Lt. Gov. Fairfax is a public official who may well rise to the position of governor,” Baron said in a statement. “He began the morning by issuing a statement regarding allegations against him, making specific representations about Post reporting that had not resulted in publication. We then had an obligation to clarify the nature of both the allegations and our reporting. “
And now, if things weren’t sordid enough, per Jonathan Martin at the NYT, Fairfax is claiming that Gov. Northam may be behind the “smear”:
“Does anybody think it’s any coincidence that on the eve of potentially my being elevated that that’s when this uncorroborated smear comes out?” Mr. Fairfax told reporters surrounding him in the rotunda of the state Capitol about whether he believes Mr. Northam, a fellow Democrat, was behind the accusation’s coming to light. He offered no evidence tying the Northam camp to the allegation.
Northam’s camp responded to the suggestion of having smeared Fairfax:
An adviser to Mr. Northam, asked Monday if the embattled governor had been behind the revelation of the assault allegations, denied any responsibility and said the Northam camp did not have the capacity to plot such a move at a moment when Mr. Northam is struggling to retain his job.
Should Northam resign, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax — a Democrat and African American — would take over as governor. This fact surely makes it easier for Democrats to call for Northam’s resignation, as it’s possible that partisan concerns would outweigh worries about racism, at least among some Democrats. After all, we’ve already seen evidence of that among some Republicans with the #MeToo movement. But at this point, one thing is clear: Democrats’ increasingly liberal views on race have made them less willing to accept racism in any form among their own representatives — Northam’s net approval among Virginia Democrats dropped almost 40 points practically overnight.
Also, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus has weighed in about the accusation against Lt. Gov. Fairfox:
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus issued a statement saying it takes “all allegations of sexual assault or misconduct with the utmost seriousness. Given the recent allegations regarding Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, the VLBC will continue to assess this developing situation as more details become available.”