Del. Vivian E. Watts (D-Fairfax) filed a bill Friday to allow the commissioners to vote to remove a member for “neglect of duty or gross misconduct.”
Her target, she said, was Jose A. Feliciano Jr. of Fredericksburg, one of eight citizens appointed to the commission earlier this month by a panel of retired judges, who chose from names nominated by leaders of the General Assembly.
Eight members of the legislature — four Democrats and four Republicans — make up the rest of the panel.
The state constitutional amendment creating the commission, approved by voters in November, included no mechanism for removing a member.
Feliciano, who was nominated by House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), was an unabashed supporter of President Donald Trump on Twitter. Though his account was taken down shortly after he was appointed to the commission, Feliciano has acknowledged posting the tweets that have drawn ire from Democrats.
Those included a tweet posted shortly before the presidential election that said the only way Democratic nominee Joe Biden could win was if it was “rigged,” and other tweets that vilified particular women, such as using a vile, misogynist expletive to refer to Jane Fonda and calling Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn a “bimbo.”
“I said what I said. I used language that I probably shouldn’t have used. That was like almost three years ago, what else can I say?” Feliciano said in a brief telephone interview Thursday evening.
Gilbert could not be reached for comment about his nominee.
The Democratic Party of Virginia called Thursday for Feliciano’s removal, as did the group Emily’s List, which supports women in politics.
Watts said she believes the sentiments should disqualify Feliciano from serving on the commission, which will draw new political boundaries this year based on data from the 2020 U.S. Census.
“It’s awful stuff,” Watts said. “What I see in all of these [tweets] just doesn’t represent the people of Virginia — no way.”
Watts said her bill contains an emergency clause so it could be implemented immediately. Approving an emergency bill would require approval from four-fifths of the legislature, meaning Republicans — none of whom has joined in the criticism — would have to go along with it.
As Thursday night’s meeting of the commission got underway, the citizen members introduced themselves.
“We all want the same thing out of this commission — fair votes for everybody,” Feliciano said in the online meeting. “I want to make sure everybody in Virginia has an equal voice.”
Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.