3 GOP lawmakers join Democrats as Virginia Senate censures Amanda Chase

Capitol Connection

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Three GOP state lawmakers voted with Democrats in the Virginia Senate on Wednesday to censure state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) for “conduct unbecoming” of a senator, a formal rebuke against the gubernatorial contender over comments she made in the aftermath of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Sen. Chase addressed the chamber before the 24-9 vote, first calling out other senators with personal attacks and claiming a “double standard” before eventually sharing an apology to those she hurt in the Senate and condemning white supremacists.

A vote was expected Tuesday, but after a tearful revelation from Chase on the Senate floor, even the most outspoken critics of the senator agreed to delay the vote and give her additional time.

Those critics did not hold back Wednesday as several legislators, especially GOP senators, strongly condemned public statements and previous social media posts from Chase about other members in the Senate and false claims that the presidential election was stolen.

“This is not a first amendment issue for me, it’s about hypocrisy and integrity,” state Sen. Tommy Norment (R-James City). one of Chase’s main targets, told the chamber. Sen. Norment then said that Chase recently sought to return to the caucus, a claim she denied.

Chase tweeted about Norment five times after disclosing that her mother-in-law had open-heart surgery on Tuesday and getting the censure vote pushed back, specifically about the former majority leader’s affair with a lobbyist.

“The reason I left the Republican Senate Caucus, sir, is because of your improprieties and your constantly being in the press with affairs and lying and corporate donations,” Chase said on the floor Wednesday.

The tweets from Chase prompted an uproar among Republicans in the Senate, with many coming to the defense of Norment while criticizing Chase’s intentions as a representative.

“Attacking his [Norment’s] family is beyond the pale, beyond the pale,” Sen. William M. Stanley Jr. (R-Franklin) said during a fiery speech. “So much ability wasted on ambition and a sense of entitlement and frankly a lack of accountability.”

Stanley then addressed a document Chase shared with her colleagues, which threatened possible legal action if a censure was approved, where she said she would wear “it like a badge of honor.”

“More like a badge of shame,” Stanley contended. The Republican from Franklin left the room after he spoke and was among six who did not vote on Wednesday.

Sen. Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond), the only senator who backed Chase’s effort for more time Tuesday, said he was poised to vote against the censure as he thought comments from Chase cited in the substitute resolution were protected by free speech. That changed after Chase didn’t give an unconditional apology for calling those at the “Stop the Steal” rally “patriots” and denouncing rioters and “white supremacists” who wore jerseys that read “six million dead Jews are not enough,” according to Morrissey.

“When I sat down I was absolutely convinced she would apologize and it didn’t happen,” Morrissey said before Wednesday’s vote. The Democratic state senator from Richmond took exception to those across the aisle who said they wouldn’t give a vote on the censure.

“If you don’t vote, you are voting not to censure,” Morrissey told the chamber. “We are paid that whopping $18,000 a year to make those tough decisions.”

The censure resolution, a formal rebuke that does little beyond that, calls to place Chase “last in seniority for failure to uphold her office, misuse of office, and conduct unbecoming of a Senator.”

“The inflammatory statements and actions of Senator Amanda F. Chase during her tenure in the Senate of Virginia have created and aggravated tensions, misled constituents and citizens, and obstructed the Senate’s business in service of the Commonwealth, and such behavior constitutes a failure to uphold her oath of office, misuse of office, and conduct unbecoming of a Senator and, collectively, has caused a material effect upon the conduct of her office,” the substitute reads. 

Three Republican senators approved the measure, nine others voted against it and six GOP lawmakers did not vote at all. All of the Democrats in the Senate voted to censure Chase.

“The double standard and hypocrisy to hold certain senators accountable is egregious,” Chase said during her remarks. Chase did add that the “patriots” she was referring to were the ones at the rally with her, “peace loving people who disagreed with the election results,” not anyone who stormed the Capitol.

State Sen. John Bell (D-Loudoun), with the support of several other Senate Democrats, filed a resolution to censure Chase claiming she instigated “insurrection against the United States” during a speech she gave at the “Stop the Steal” rally ahead of the attack on the U.S. Capitol. 

“I think it’s completely ridiculous,” Chase said in an interview after the bill was filed. “I think it’s political because I’m running for governor. Let’s make no mistake about that.”

The caucus asserted that the Republican gubernatorial contender helped empower “a failed coup d’état” at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and called on her to resign from office before any resolution was submitted. After deciding not to leave office, the chamber voted 37-1 to strip Chase of her last committee assignment

On Tuesday, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) ruled that the substitute from Sen. Bell was germane with the original resolution after both Bell and Chase gave their arguments. Bell made brief remarks, taking just a few moments of the five minutes allotted. Chase contended that the substitute was “completely different” and that Sen. Bell should have to file another bill.

“He [Bell] realized how absurd his comments are and has tried to come up with another reason to embarrass me,” Chase said during her five minutes on Tuesday.

A motion to approve the substitute was quickly agreed upon following Fairfax’s decision and a vote appeared near. Just as Sen. Bell began to call for a formal floor vote, Chase asked that the bill go by for the day. 

Bell and Norment objected to the idea of delaying a vote, arguing that Sen. Chase did not testify during a committee meeting last week in her defense or give a sincere apology on the floor as Bell had asked her to do. Sen. Bell told the chamber Wednesday that he informed Chase that if she apologized he would withdraw the censure.

Before any motion could be made Tuesday, Chase began to cry as she spoke about her mother-in-law’s condition. After her remarks, Bell and Norment both withdrew their objections and the bill went by for the day.

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