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Va. Lt. Gov. Fairfax Speaks Out Against Allegations Against Him


Virginia's Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax has kept a low profile since two sexual assault accusations surfaced against him earlier this month. But yesterday he gave an impromptu speech at the state Senate comparing himself to lynching victims of the last two centuries. Ben Paviour has the story from member station WCVE in Richmond.


JUSTIN FAIRFAX: We good? We're going to do it again.


FAIRFAX: The Senate will come to order.

BEN PAVIOUR, BYLINE: Sunday was the final day of Virginia's legislative session. Justin Fairfax was leading proceedings, as he's done for the last seven weeks. Fairfax said he hadn't planned on addressing the allegations against him, but he went on to connect them to the state's history of racial violence.


FAIRFAX: If we go backwards, and we rush to judgment and we allow for political lynchings without any due process, any facts, any evidence being heard then I think we do a disservice to this very body in which we all serve.

PAVIOUR: The lieutenant governor suggested that had the accusations surfaced 50 years ago, he wouldn't be on the dais.


FAIRFAX: A very different outcome would have happened with no facts, no due process, no evidence, no nothing.

PAVIOUR: Senators responded with silence. But in the more combative lower chamber, House Republican Majority Leader Todd Gilbert called the remarks, quote, "the worst, most disgusting type of rhetoric." Republicans in the House announced on Friday that they're inviting Fairfax's two accusers to a hearing. Fairfax and most Democrats say that the legislature is the wrong venue for an investigation. Democratic delegate Lashrecse Aird says they'll act quickly if Fairfax is convicted.


LASHRECSE AIRD: Because the women, the black women, on this side of the aisle will be the first people to draft articles of impeachment.

PAVIOUR: With Democratic Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring embroiled in blackface scandals, the party's political problems in Virginia show no sign of going away anytime soon. For NPR News, I'm Ben Paviour in Richmond. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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