The 2019 session of the Virginia General Assembly has officially ended.
But as Lt. Governor Justin Farifax gaveled out the State Senate for the year, he took the opportunity to address the Senate in light of two major sexual assault scandals that now plague his career.
But rather than help mitigate the problem, Fairfax only ended up making it ten times worse.
Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax has had perhaps the worst month of any Virginia statewide officeholder in Virginia history, including his fellow scandal-marred colleagues, Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring.
After witnessing his political career hang by a threat in the wake of two major sexual assault allegations, Fairfax has been trying to move past the scandal and get his career back on track.
And in the final hours of the 2019 session, he took the opportunity to address the Senate in his defense.
From his stand overlooking the Senate floor, Fairfax compared himself to Jim Crow-era lynching victims in what reports from Richmond suggest was a surprise speech this weekend.
“I’ve heard much about anti-lynching on the floor of this very Senate, where people were not given any due process whatsoever, and we rue that,” Fairfax said, using language that came from a resolution from the General Assembly this year expressing “profound regret” for lynchings in Virginia between 1877 and 1950.
The embattled Lt. Governor then proceeded to characterize himself as the victim.
“And we talk about hundreds, at least 100 terror lynchings that have happened in the Commonwealth of Virginia under those very same auspices. And yet we stand here in a rush to judgment with nothing but accusations and no facts and we decide that we are willing to do the same thing,” Fairfax said.
The speech lasted roughly five minutes, and was followed by stunned silence from the Senate floor.
Fairfax has been accused by two women of rape. The first accusation came from Dr. Vanessa Tyson, who publicly accused the Lt. Governor of forcing her to give Fairfax oral sex at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
Dr. Tyson’s lawyers have stated they intend to pursue criminal charges.
This allegation was quickly followed by another, when Meredith Wilson accused Fairfax of raping her while they attended Duke University 19 years ago.
Fairfax’s attempts to paint himself as the victim from this scandal have been met with nearly universal condemnation.
“That is the worst, most disgusting type of rhetoric he could have invoked,” said House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Woodstock).
Political pundit, Dr. Larry Sabato, also slammed Fairfax’s comments.
Dr. Sabato tweeted that Fairfax’s comparison between himself and lynching victims was “A very inappropriate comparison.”
“No. By all means, dispute the charges and prove them false if you can, but real lynching was in a horrible class of its own,” Sabato tweeted.
Fairfax has already faced calls for his resignation from the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus, and most of the state Democratic leadership, including members of Congress and party activists.
He has thus far signaled that he will not be stepping down, which has prompted the General Assembly to consider a wide array of options to investigate the charges against him.
House Republicans announced plans at the end of the 2019 session to hold a public hearing for Fairfax, Tyson and Watson to testify, a move that Fairfax criticized as a political attack on himself.
We will keep you up to date with any new developments in this ongoing story as Lt. Governor Fairfax continues to battle with demands for his resignation.
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