A video posted to social media showed Morrissey visiting with poll workers, delivering doughnuts and posing for pictures.
He was charged under a section of state law that prohibits campaigning within a polling place or delaying or hindering people from voting. Morrissey countered that one provision within that section allows a candidate to visit a polling place “for no longer than 10 minutes.”
Morrissey, who revels in his image as a bad-boy politician and once won an election to the House of Delegates while serving jail time on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, dismissed the charges as “donutgate.”
Morrissey’s office said he visited the precinct in the Church Hill section of Richmond to deliver Krispy Kreme doughnuts to the election workers inside. “Several of the workers asked to take a picture with Senator Morrissey and he obliged,” the release said.
Morrissey went on to blame the matter on state Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D), who authorized the state police to conduct the investigation. State law requires the governor, the attorney general or a grand jury to sign off before an elected official can be investigated, according to Herring spokeswoman Charlotte Gomer.
“I’m shocked but not surprised” by Herring’s decision, Morrissey said, who suggested that it came after Morrissey had endorsed Del. Jerrauld C. “Jay” Jones (D-Norfolk) over Herring in next year’s race for attorney general.
Morrissey accused Herring of ignoring more serious matters, such as the coronavirus pandemic, to instead “allocate the resources of his office to investigate the donut delivery man.”
But Gomer said Herring had nothing to do with conducting the investigation, which was handled by state police at the direction of a special prosecutor appointed by the Richmond commonwealth’s attorney.
“Pretty much everything in Senator Morrissey’s statement is really so far beyond the realm of reality that I don’t think it’s worth printing,” Gomer said.
State police said the investigation is ongoing.
Morrissey has had numerous run-ins with the law over the years. He faced assault charges in the early 1990s when he was Richmond’s commonwealth’s attorney and had to resign his seat in the House of Delegates over charges that stemmed from his relationship with his 17-year-old receptionist.
The two are now married and have three children together. Morrissey’s victory in the state Senate race last year was a huge comeback, aided by his local fame as a no-holds-barred defense lawyer. He has lost his law license, however, in part because of his criminal record.