Maybe Kirk Cox really does need to start preparing for the governorship. ABC News reported last night that Vanessa Tyson tried to warn Democrats more than a year ago that Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax had a “#MeToo allegation. Rep. Bobby Scott, a Democratic congressman from Virginia’s 3rd CD, acknowledged that Tyson had told him the whole story in December 2017, not long after Tyson first became aware that Fairfax was running for office:
Virginia Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott was made aware of allegations of sexual assault against now-Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax over a year ago by the alleged victim herself, ABC News has learned.
Scott learned of the allegations directly from Dr. Vanessa Tyson, who on Wednesday released a statement detailing the alleged 2004 assault, which took place at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. …
In a text message exchange between Scott and Tyson in December 2017, she informed him that the now-Lieutenant Governor-Elect had a “MeToo allegation,” but at the time the congressman did not know that she was the accuser, according to aides.
In late December 2017 and early January 2018, aides to Scott said he learned that it was Tyson herself who was involved in a “MeToo allegation,” concerning Fairfax. She also informed him that she had already told the Washington Post about an alleged incident involving Fairfax and that she had given the Post Congressman Scott’s name as a character witness.
That raises even more questions about the Washington Post. Fairfax alleged that the Post didn’t find her account credible, but the Post rebutted Fairfax and stated that they didn’t run with it because they couldn’t find independent corroboration. Scott’s character reference wouldn’t have been corroboration, as was litigated endlessly in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, but shouldn’t that have raised significant journalistic interest? Especially since Scott himself has been accused of sexual misconduct, as ABC notes? (Scott denied the allegation.) It seems curious at best that the Post chose to drop the story when it did rather than to continue gathering information.
The toothpaste is fully out of the tube now, of course. Scott tells ABC that Tyson has been a friend for over a decade, and that her allegation “need[s] to be taken seriously. … She deserves the opportunity to be heard.” That’s a pretty significant break away from Fairfax by an important Democrat in the state, and it comes at a very very bad time for Virginia Democrats. The state’s other two constitutional officers, both Democrats, have both admitted to dressing up in blackface earlier in their lives and might get chased out of office. The state party may find itself in the middle of a civil war over all three men.
Politico’s Maggie Severns calls it a “free fall“:
At 11 a.m., state Attorney General Mark Herring gathered black lawmakers for a private meeting, where he discussed his wearing blackface and apologized for his past behavior. The news visibly shook lawmakers emerging from the meeting.
Within hours, the next bombshell shook Richmond: Vanessa Tyson, who says Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax sexually assaulted her in 2004, spoke publicly for the first time in a lengthy statement detailing her alleged experience.
Few in the state capitol professed to have any idea what the makeup of state’s leadership will be a week from now. Gov. Ralph Northam, who is engulfed in a controversy over a racist yearbook photo and appearing in blackface in the past, is working to clear his name amid widespread pressure to resign. Fairfax and Herring, the other two top-ranking officials in the state who could potentially ascend to the governorship in the coming days, are battling increasingly treacherous scandals of their own.
“We’re just taking a measured approach and we’re taking it step by step,” said Democratic Del. Joe Lindsey on Wednesday, minutes after meeting with Herring. “We’re just trying to deal with the matter at hand.”
Well, which matter would that be? The alleged sexual assault, for which Democrats profess to #BelieveAllWomen, or the two incidents of blackface that Democrats in Virginia and everywhere else insisted six days ago was a mortal sin? If Democrats force Northam to resign over the blackface incident(s), then Herring has to go to, especially because Herring declared that Northam had to resign over his use of blackface. And if Tyson has enough credibility to keep pressure on Fairfax, they can’t have him around either. That would leave state House speaker Kirk Cox, a Republican, as the last man standing for the gubernatorial position.
It’s pretty easy to see where Virginia Democrats have to go with this. They’ll ease up on demands that Northam resign, which will allow Herring to stick around. If Tyson’s telling the truth, Fairfax committed a felony sexual assault, a crime that simply can’t be ignored. They’ll vote Fairfax Most Likely to End Up Under the Bus … and hope everyone forgets this by 2021.
And of course, no one will.