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Democratic congressional members release joint statement on controversies surrounding Virginia’s leadership

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WASHINGTON – Virginia’s Democratic congressional members issued a statement Thursday regarding the mounting controversies against a number of leaders in the Commonwealth.

In the statement, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and U.S. Representatives Bobby Scott, Gerry Connolly, Don Beyer, A. Donald McEachin, Elaine Luria, Abigaile Spanberger and Jennifer Wexton acknowledged that they have each publicly called for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign after a racist photo from his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School surfaced last week.

Mark Herring, Justin Fairfax and Ralph Northam

For full coverage on Gov. Northam’s yearbook photo controversy, click here.

They also mentioned that they were “shocked and saddened,” as well as “deeply disturbed” to learn of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s admission that he wore blackface in the past and the sexual assault allegation against Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.

Read the full statement below:

“Like other Virginians, we have been devastated by these horrible developments. We are brokenhearted that the actions of Governor Northam and Attorney General Herring have reopened old wounds left by Virginia’s long history of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and systemic racism. There’s no question that Virginians’ faith in their government and leaders has understandably been deeply shaken.

We have each publicly called for Governor Northam to resign.

Yesterday, we were shocked and saddened to learn of the incident in the Attorney General’s past. The Attorney General has earnestly reached out to each of us to apologize and express his deep remorse. We understand that he is currently engaged in in-depth discussions with leaders and others in Virginia. The Attorney General must continue those conversations, and stand ready to answer questions from the public if he is to regain their trust.

We are deeply disturbed by the account detailing the alleged actions of Lieutenant Governor Fairfax. We believe these allegations need to be taken very seriously, and we respect the right of women to come forward and be heard.

We will continue in dialogue with one another and our constituents in the coming days, and evaluate additional information as it comes to light.”

Though not specifically named in the statement, it was also revealed Thursday that Virginia Senator and Republican Majority Leader Tommy Norment is listed as the managing editor of the 1968 Virginia Military Institute yearbook called “The Bomb,” in which News 3 found photos with people wearing blackface and captions that are considered racial slurs.

Click here for more coverage on racist yearbook photo controversies. 

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