Race and sexism scandal engulfs Virginia officials

Virginia attorney-general admits to wearing blackface in college as scandal spreads

The allegation first surfaced obliquely Sunday on the Political Big Leagues website, which two days earlier published the photo from Northam's yearbook of a man in blackface standing beside a masked individual dressed in the hooded robe of the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan.

Herring's admission came after a meeting with the Virginia legislative black caucus, and before any unfortunate photos were dug up.

"I'm willing to talk to anybody about honest conversations about how we move forward", said Del. Lamont Bagby, said Wednesday.

"I'm a pastor. I believe in divine retribution", said E.W. Jackson, the Republican who lost to Northam in the 2013 race for lieutenant governor.

The 57-year-old Herring came forward after rumors about the existence of a blackface photo of him began circulating at the Capitol.

Elected officials in both parties have recently seen their careers ended by allegations of racism and sexual misconduct.

Tyson alleged that Fairfax, a Democrat, forced her to perform oral sex during the July 2004 encounter, which occurred during the Democratic National Convention in Boston, according to The Washington Post.

With Virginia Governor and award-winning moonwalker Ralph Northam facing calls to resign over his apparent affinity for blackface, all eyes turned to the state's young rising star of a lieutenant governor and former Venable counsel Justin Fairfax. He said that the accuser offered "a very compelling and detailed statement of a serious, serious charge", while Fairfax has given "a very unequivocal denial".

That led to the question of what would happen if Northam and Fairfax both resign.

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Cox issued a statement late Wednesday calling the allegations against Fairfax "extremely serious" and said they need a "full airing of facts". Although The Post wrote that they found "no significant red flags or inconsistencies within the allegations", they were unable to corroborate her account, so they did not run a story. "And I would ask the state of Virginia, especially the governor, to think about what amends looks like in their state". "We think the process is moving too rapidly", McShane said.

And yet, no major Democratic presidential candidate - or other party leader - has called for Fairfax's resignation.

If all three top Democrats in the line of succession are unable to hold the governor's job, that could result in Democrats losing the Governor's Mansion altogether.

Northam has come under pressure from almost the entire Democratic establishment to resign after the discovery of a photo on his profile page in the Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook of someone in blackface standing next to a person in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.

Northam admitted at first that he was in the photo without saying which costume he was wearing. "The photo would be profoundly offensive in any circumstances, but it is also shocking and deeply disappointing to know that it pictures Governor Northam".

Herring, who has expressed gubernatorial ambitions of his own, apologized for "a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity".

But he also said: "This conduct is in no way reflective of the man I have become in the almost 40 years since".

"As I said in my statement this morning, I have nothing to hide".

Herring described his actions as a "minimisation" of people of colour, and of America's fraught racial history, which he says he was well aware of at the time. That's because of a weird win in 2018 in which Cox's election run was so close to his opponent that his name was pulled out of a ceramic bowl designed at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

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