Top donor withdraws sponsorship from Virginia Democrats’ fundraising gala due to Fairfax speech

Politics

FILE – In a Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 file photo, Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax speaks during the 9th Annual wreath laying and ceremony at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, in Washington. District Judge Anthony Trenga in Alexandria has tossed out a libel lawsuit filed by Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax against CBS, who he accused of slanted reporting on sexual assault allegations levied against him. U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga in Alexandria dismissed the case against CBS on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A top donor for Virginia Democrat’s biggest fundraising event of the year has decided to withdraw its sponsorship from the Blue Commonwealth Gala on Saturday following the party’s decision to have Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax as a speaker.

The chairman of the board for Clean Virginia, a clean-energy organization and staunch critic of electric monopolies, cited sexual assault allegations made against Fairfax and the lieutenant governor’s behavior in the wake of the accusations for the decision.

“I regret to announce that Clean Virginia has withdrawn its top-tier sponsorship from the Democratic Party of Virginia’s Blue Commonwealth Gala due to the Party’s last-minute decision, communicated to us by its leadership, to grant Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax a featured speaking spot at tomorrow’s Gala,” Clean Virginia Board Chair Michael Bills said in a statement Friday.

Several prominent figures in politics plan to make appearances in Richmond for the event, including presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg and surrogates speaking on behalf of the other 2020 hopefuls. Another elected official engulfed in scandal last year, Gov. Ralph Northam (D), is among one of the many Virginia Democrats who will also speak.

Critics of Clean Virginia’s decision have called the group out for pulling its support because of Fairfax’s appearance but not after Northam, who was hit with a blackface scandal a few days before the allegations against Fairfax were made public, was announced as a key speaker. Sen. Mamie Locke of Hampton, a longtime Virginia Democrat, tweeted “smacks of racism to me” following Bills’ statement.

“Last year, I joined the Virginia House and Senate Democratic Caucuses, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, and a large contingent of Virginia’s elected Congressional Delegation in calling for Fairfax’s resignation in light of the credible allegations of rape and sexual assault made against him. In the year since, he has used his position of power to further attack his accusers. I remain resolute in my conviction that Fairfax needs to resign,” Bills’ statement continued. “Particularly coupled with the lack of hearings in the House of Delegates into the allegations against him, I am gravely concerned that granting Fairfax the honor of speaking at the Gala sends an exculpatory message I do not believe is merited and in which Clean Virginia will have no part.”

In June, two Democratic presidential candidates who have done well early on in the primary, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Ind., each came to Richmond for the party’s 2019 gala. Fairfax did not attend the gala in June, citing the denial of his PAC’s donation for a table.

8News reached out to the Democratic Party of Virginia for comment but did not get a response.

This story is developing. Stay with 8News for updates.

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