Virginia Democrats float impeachment against lieutenant governor




  • In US
  • 2019-02-11 08:41:50Z
  • By By Gary Robertson
Justin Fairfax, the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, drinks before opening the state
Justin Fairfax, the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, drinks before opening the state's Senate meeting during a session of the General Assembly in Richmond  

By Gary Robertson

RICHMOND, Va. (Reuters) - A draft resolution calling for the impeachment of Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, a Democrat, has been circulating among Virginia Democrats over allegations of sexual assault, and might be introduced as soon as Monday.

Fairfax is one of three top Virginia Democrats embroiled in scandals, including the governor and attorney general. He denies the allegations brought by two women.

Virginia's embattled governor, Ralph Northam, insisted, in an interview to be aired on CBS Monday, that he would not resign over a racist yearbook photo from the 1980s that was recently made public.

But Northam said, in excerpts from the interview made available Sunday, that Fairfax would have to step aside if sexual assault allegations against him were found to be true. Northam told CBS it must have taken tremendous courage for the women to come forward.

"And if these accusations are determined to be true, I don't think he's going to have any other option but to resign," Northam said.

Meanwhile, state Democratic House of Delegates member Patrick Hope has said he will introduce articles of impeachment against Fairfax on Monday unless the lieutenant governor quits.

Fairfax has said that encounters with both women were consensual. On Sunday, a spokeswoman for the lieutenant governor said he was "aggressively exploring options for a thorough, independent, and impartial investigation" of the allegations.

The political chaos surrounding the state's top elected officials has extended to the second in line to succeed Northam, Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring, who admitted that he had once darkened his face to imitate a black performer.

The possibility all three top leaders of Virginia's executive branch would have to resign raised the prospect of the Democrats losing the governorship to the Republican speaker of the state House, who is next in the line of succession.

(Writing by Rich McKay; additional reporting by Gary Robertson, Letitia Stein; editing by Larry King)

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