Northam and Herring admitted to wearing blackface as young men, while two women accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting them years ago — allegations he has strongly denied.
All three saw fundraising dry up in the immediate aftermath, as first-quarter reports revealed last week. But there are signs that money might start flowing again, which could be critical for state Democrats as they try to win control of the General Assembly in November elections.
Rosen and Fairfax are both graduates of Duke University and served together on the board of visitors at the Sanford School of Public Policy until Feb. 6, when Fairfax was asked to step down in the wake of the allegations against him. Rosen, who remains on the board, has consistently donated to Fairfax since he entered politics.
Chief executive of Kaplan and a former attorney for The Washington Post, Rosen declined a request to be interviewed but sent a brief email through a spokesman for the for-profit education company. Kaplan and the newspaper once shared the same parent company.
“Justin Fairfax is a longtime friend,” Rosen said in the email. “These are serious allegations, and both sides deserve an opportunity to have a full and impartial investigation into the facts.”
Fairfax spokeswoman Lauren Burke indicated in a statement that other substantial donations were on the way and two fundraising events are planned over the next two weeks.
“Supporters of Justin are asking us to put together events to support him,” she said. “There are many who believe in him and in due process in general. We’re working through those event requests now. . . . Many friends as well as complete strangers have expressed support for the Lt. Governor and his family. He passed two polygraphs on March 31. He will continue to take action to clear his name as he remains focused on his duties as Lt. Governor.”
Northam also received a five-figure donation in the past week. Robert D. Hardie, a Charlottesville venture capitalist, donated $10,000 to the Way Ahead, Northam’s political action committee. He had donated $35,000 in January.
Mark Bergman, who heads Northam’s PAC, said the governor “took a pause” in fundraising until April. Even before he had resumed fundraising, the PAC had reserves he could dip into to donate to Democrats running for the legislature.
“We began actively fundraising April 1 and we’re already pleased with the results thus far,” Bergman said. “I would note that we have $1.2 million on hand and we’re actively supporting candidates to secure Democratic majorities in the fall.”
The fundraising reports released last week cover the first three months of the year, a period that included the 46-day General Assembly session, when state officeholders are prohibited from raising money. Northam, Herring and Fairfax had just about a week to raise money at the start of the year before they had to pause for the session, and they had about a month after the session, before the quarter ended March 31. The scandals unfolded in the middle of that.
Fairfax raised $1,950 for the quarter, all of that before the session. Northam’s first-quarter total was $207,500, just $2,500 after the session. Herring raised $17,250 after the session, for a total of $18,000 for the quarter.
Former governor Terry McAuliffe announced last week that he would forgo a White House bid and devote the next year to turning the General Assembly blue, in part because the three Democrats had been hobbled by scandal.
Del. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico), chairman of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, said he welcomed McAuliffe’s help. Yet he did not see him as a stand-in for the wounded Northam, but part of a Democratic team effort that includes U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine and members of Congress such as Robert C. “Bobby” Scott and A. Donald McEachin.
“I don’t think the challenges that we have before us to win this election and regain control of the House and Senate can be done by one individual, and that was true before the events of Feb. 1 and remains true,” he said.