Of the six Virginia Democrats in the U.S. House who called on Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax to resign in the face of sexual assault allegations, only Rep. Jennifer Wexton has responded to questions about campaign cash she received from Fairfax, saying she donated the money to a charity.
Fairfax, a Democrat who was elected lieutenant governor in 2017, donated to all seven U.S. House Democrats from Virginia, as well as the state’s Democratic senators, Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
A co-chair of Warner’s 2014 reelection campaign, Fairfax made four donations to the senator totaling $4,000 from 2008 to 2014, and gave Kaine a total of $1,500 in 2012 and 2018.
Warner, who said Fairfax should resign “if” the allegations against him are accurate, and Kaine, who unequivocally called for Fairfax to leave office, both said through spokeswomen that they have no plans to donate or return the donations.
Wexton took the $250 she received from Fairfax in October 2018 and sent it to the Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter on Feb. 11, said her senior adviser, Abigail Carter.
Aides to the other Virginia Democrats in the House did not return messages seeking comment.
On Feb. 6, Vanessa Tyson accused Fairfax of assaulting her when they were both attending the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004. On Feb. 8, Meredith Watson accused Fairfax of assaulting her in 2000 when they were both college students at Duke University. Fairfax has denied both allegations.
Wexton’s donation to the women’s shelter will be used to provide services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, shelter executive director Judith A. Hanley said.
Fairfax donated $250 to Wexton’s campaign last year, shortly before she unseated Republican congresswoman Barbara Comstock.
The National Republican Congressional Committee earlier this month called on Wexton and Reps. Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger — who all flipped red seats blue in November — to return campaign contributions from Fairfax.
“Now, Wexton needs to publicly call on her Democratic colleagues to return the money — just like she did with Comstock last fall,” NRCC spokeswoman Camille Gallo said Wednesday.
During the campaign, Wexton called on Comstock to return donations linked to Republican congressman Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania after it was revealed he settled a harassment claim with a much younger aide.
At the time, Comstock promised to donate $8,000 from Meehan’s campaign and leadership committee to charities that protect women and children.
Of the seven House Democrats, only Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, the longest serving member of the delegation, did not call for Fairfax to resign. Scott has been friends with Tyson for about a decade, an aide has said.
Fairfax gave Scott, Wexton, Luria, Spanberger and Reps. Don Beyer and A. Donald McEachin each $250, in October of 2018, when they were all on the ballot.
Over time, Fairfax had also made three donations, totaling $1,750, to Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D), who represents the section of Fairfax County where the lieutenant governor lives.
Shortly after Watson made public her allegations against Fairfax, Wexton tweeted her support for both women.
“I believe Dr. Vanessa Tyson. I believe Meredith Watson. And I believe Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax must resign,’ she wrote.
Connolly, Beyer, Luria, Spanberger and Wexton then issued a lengthy joint statement calling on Fairfax to step down.
They said they believed Tyson and that Watson’s accusations bolstered Tysons story. They also accused Fairfax of showing “exceptionally poor judgment” in responding to the allegations.
“He repeatedly attacked [Tyson], he reportedly used vile and degrading language to describe her, he mischaracterized an investigation into the encounter, and he sought to blame others for events in his own past,” the statement says.
McEachin issued a statement the same day calling for Fairfax to step down.