RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In an 8News interview, Virginia Senator Joe Morrissey pushed-back against allegations he violated state code while visiting a polling location in the City of Richmond during the 2019 election.
After being arraigned in Richmond General District Court this week, Morrissey admitted to the Nov. 5, 2019 appearance at the Powhatan Community Center in Richmond’s east end. However, he said it should not have warranted an investigation of whether he violated the law.
On the day in question, Morrissey–with donuts in hand–is alleged to have greeted voters within 40 feet of the polling entrance, according to the complaint.
The complaint makes several allegations, including those that Morrissey might have attempted to influence voters by telling locals that he was running for state Senate outside the building, plus, he is said to have lingered near voting booths and held-up voting by taking photos with staff – keeping others from casting their ballot.
These actions are potential violations of state code.
“People asked to take pictures with me. What am I supposed to say, you know? ‘No?'” Morrissey asked.
Morrissey was served three misdemeanor charges for code violations earlier this week after Attorney General Mark Herring approved a special prosecutor to investigate last December.
The investigation was handled by the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Richmond Field Office.
On Friday, the senator pushed back.
“The code allows a candidate on Election day to go into the polling place for 10 minutes,” Morrissey said.
Morrissey is correct. However, state code also says candidates must comply with restrictions, including not to loiter within 40 feet of a polling place entrance or to delay a voter.
“I’ve read the statute, I read the summons, it’s specious,” Morrissey declared. “I am shocked that Attorney General Herring would use the resource of his office when people are dying of COVID-19, losing their jobs, losing their homes, having a hard time feeding the public to prosecute the donut delivery man.”
Charlotte Gomer, a spokesperson for Herring’s office responded to Morrissey’s grievances, saying, in part, that the Attorney General’s office was not the agency who decided to charge him – a special prosecutor did – going on to note that what Morrissey said “is divorced from all reality.”
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