Amid the controversy and calls for impeachment from his peers, Virginia Lt. Gov. and former District resident Justin Fairfax has managed to hang on to his job and, as each day goes by, it’s beginning to appear that he just might survive the sexual abuse scandal that’s engulfed his first term in office.
Virginia Delegate Patrick Hope on Monday backed off his plans to introduce articles of impeachment against the embattled Fairfax.
“I sent draft language to my colleagues on the first step of an impeachment action regarding the Lt. Governor. There has been an enormous amount of sincere and thoughtful feedback which has led to additional conversations that need to take place before anything is filed,” Hope tweeted on Monday.
CNN reported that Hope’s decision came during a conference call Sunday night with Democratic members of the Virginia House of Delegates in which members voiced their strong opinion to Hope that the caucus was not prepared for articles of impeachment to be introduced.
In another tweet, Hope said, “We owe it to all parties involved — especially the victims — to make sure that we have sure that we have thought through every option the General Assembly has.”
Hope, who said he believes the two women who have accused Fairfax of sexual assault, was assured during the call that Democrats will support some form of an independent investigation into the matter, according to CNN.
“I promise that my work on this issue will be tireless until we have a process and outcome that treats these women with the respect they deserve going forward,” Hope wrote.
He wasn’t the only Democrat to voice displeasure with Fairfax and call for either his resignation or impeachment.
“We hold public officials to a higher standard than ordinary citizens for a reason — they must have the confidence and trust of the people in order to effectively govern,” said D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton. “Both Justin Fairfax and [Virginia Gov.] Ralph Northam have lost the ability to successfully govern and therefore must resign,”
Northam remains under heavy scrutiny because of a photo on his 1984 medical college yearbook page that showed one person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe. Days after the Northam scandal broke, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring also admitted to donning blackface he said he wore during a party back in 1980.
In a statement over the past weekend and in a published interview, Fairfax continued to deny the accusations that he sexually assaulted two women while in college.
“I’ve been very relaxed, being able to focus on my official duties has actually helped,” Fairfax said. “I enjoy that work tremendously, presiding over the senators and the staff interactions and working with constituents. I welcome the opportunity to focus on those issues that the people of Virginia elected us to work on.”
Had a resolution for impeachment been introduced, it would have been the first step in the removal process. The process begins in the House, and if it passes with a majority vote, it moves to the Senate, where a trial would be held to determine if Fairfax will be removed.
The resolution must have the support of the speaker of the House, currently Republican Kirkland Cox, in order to even be brought for a vote for the House floor. Cox had not indicated if he would allow that to happen, according to CNN.
“I’m very confident that the entire encounter was consensual,” Fairfax said of the allegations against him. “We’re looking forward to the independent investigation to explore the facts, and assess various factors involved. Those reviews will support what I know is the truth.”