RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — After a second sexual assault allegation against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax came to light on Friday, several lawmakers in Virginia called for the lieutenant governor to resign, with one fellow Democrat even threatening to file articles of impeachment if Fairfax refused to step down.
In a tweet on Friday, Delegate Patrick Hope (D-Arlington) initially posted he would file articles of impeachment if Lt. Gov. Fairfax didn’t leave office by the end of the weekend. Pulling back on Monday, the Arlington Democrat said: “additional conversations need to take place before anything is filed.”
A source on a conference call with Del. Hope said he’s not filing due in part to pressure from members of the legislative black caucus, despite the fact that the caucus called on Fairfax to resign.
Republican Senator Amanda Chase (R-District 11) released a statement calling for due process while the allegations are investigated, “to ensure both parties the right of innocence until proven guilty.”
The women involved in Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax’s allegations must be heard in the jurisdiction where the incidents occurred. Due Process must be followed to ensure both parties the right of innocence until proven guilty. As legislators, it’s important for us to focus on our legislative session until we must be involved under the law.”
Sen. Chase (R-Va.)
Sen. Chase says she wants to make sure Fairfax’s accusers are heard but says lawmakers need to find the right venue.
“According to the process, it’s premature at this point because we don’t have all of the facts,” Sen. Chase said. “We all want the truth.” “We want the voices of women to be heard, we want to affirm women. We want to encourage them to be brave enough to speak up,” she continued. “We take the politics out of criminal cases.”
Republican leadership is researching the impeachment process in other states and affirms the focus needs to be at the task at hand.
“So, since Del. Hope has withdrawn that, I think it’s really incumbent on us,” said House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-District 66), “everybody to take a step back and complete our work.” While calling for impeachment was put on hold, the idea is not being brushed aside. Speaker Cox said proceeding with any plans for impeachment will come with caution and require the proper research.
“I mean impeachment is unprecedented and I think we’re going to have to be very thoughtful and deliberative. You know, we’ve tried to look at some research on how other states have done it and obviously United States Congress, but it’s uncharted territory,” Cox said.