Virginia Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax on Monday, when asked by a reporter, noted the possibility that Gov.Northam could have leaked a newly revealed sexual assault allegation against Fairfax to derail his possible ascension to the governorship.
On Sunday, Fairfax accused The Washington Post of “smearing an elected official,” reiterated that the sexual assault allegation against him is “false,” and seemingly threatened to sue the paper for rebuking his earlier characterization of the evidence surrounding the episode.
“This is what we meant when we said that people who continue to spread these false allegations will be sued,” Fairfax said.
Fairfax’s comments came as Northam faces pressure from both Democrats and Republicans to resign.
In a post published on the right-wing website Big League Politics on Sunday night, a woman accused a politician fitting Fairfax’s description of sexually assaulting her in a hotel room during the Democratic National Convention in 2004. In a statement Monday, Fairfax denied assaulting
Collective PAC, which says on its website that it “working to fix the challenge of African American underrepresentation in elected seats of power throughout our nation,” issued a statement on Monday cllaiming it had “learned through various sources that Governor Northam’s team and advisors have now decided to start attacking Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax by spreading lies to reporters and state leaders in an attempt to quell support for the Lt. Governor as Governor Northam’s impending successor should he resign.”
Asked about the statement by the political action committee, which has supported Fairfax in the past, Fairfax did not dispute that Northam’s team could be responsible.
“Collective PAC has made its statement — you know, I don’t know precisely where this is coming from, you know, we’ve heard different things,” Fairfax said. “But here’s the thing: Does anybody think it’s any coincidence that on the eve of my potentially being elevated, that that’s when this uncorroborated smear comes out – does anybody believe that’s a coincidence? I don’t think anybody believes that’s a coincidence.”
He continued: “This is not the first time this was brought up. It was a year ago this was brought up. And The Post investigated three months, dropped the story, did not do it, and they did not do it because it was uncorroborated, and it was uncorroborated because it was not true.”
The Washington Post pushed back against Fairfax’s claim that the newspaper found serious problems with the original sexual misconduct accusation when it initially opted not to publish the account.
“The Post did not find ‘significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegations,’ as the Fairfax statement incorrectly said,” the Washington Post said in a story published Monday, sharply disputing a separate statement by the lieutenant governor.
This latest episode follows inside rumors that the leaking of the Northam photo was possibly an inside job. Given Republicans had not much to gain, the line of succession for Governor is all Democrats–the hit on Northam was as much personal as it was political.
While the false claim by Fairfax that the WASHPO found red flags in his assault allegations has been repudiated, his statement, “Does anybody think it’s any coincidence that on the eve of my potentially being elevated, that that’s when this uncorroborated smear comes out” certainly raises a few.