Virginia congressman knew about Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax allegation a year ago

Attorney General Mark Herring speaks at a Virginia Democratic Party annual fundraiser in 2015

Attorney General Mark Herring speaks at a Virginia Democratic Party annual fundraiser in 2015

A series of revelations over the past week have ensnared the governor and attorney general, both of whom admitted to wearing blackface while in college in the 1980s, and the lieutenant governor, accused of a 2004 sexual assault. But in his statement, he said nothing about the existence of a photo.

That stands in stark contrast to the rush of resignation calls for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, also a Democrat, in the wake of a picture featuring two men - one in blackface, the other in Ku Klux Klan robes - appearing on his medical school yearbook page. Indeed, Tyson hired Katz for the goal of drawing that parallel - and that's not meant cynically, it just makes sense for someone trying to lodge a complaint like this to align themselves with attorneys who've already shown credibility in that arena.

If all three top Democrats in the line of succession are unable to hold the governor's job, that could result in Democrats losing the Governor's Mansion altogether. Tommy Norment oversaw a yearbook during his time at the Virginia Military Institute in 1968 that included multiple racial slurs and images. "I am a proud Democrat".

Aaron Bernstein / ReutersJustin Fairfax speaking at an election rally for Ralph Northam in 2017.

Complicating the matter are scandals now confronting two people in line to take Virginia's governorship if Northam resigns.

"Democrats at the top are killing the Great State of Virginia", Trump tweeted Thursday morning.

Tyson said she suffered "deep humiliation and shame" and stayed quiet about the allegations as she pursued her career, but by late 2017, as the #MeToo movement took shape and after she saw an article about Fairfax's campaign, she took her story to The Washington Post, which decided months later not to publish a story.

"Mr. Fairfax has tried to brand me as a liar to a national audience, in service to his political ambitions, and has threatened litigation", she said. The fourth-in-line to succeed Northam is house speaker Kirk Cox, a Republican who only assumed that position through an archaic procedure that involved drawing names out of a bowl. According to the statement, Herring claimed that when he was a 19-year-old college student, his friends "suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song". He has since refused to resign, despite growing calls to do so.

"For me the scariest part is, and this has been said in the black community for decades, what happened this past week was things that we know exist came to the surface", said Francesca Leigh-Davis, who co-hosts the RVA Dirt local politics radio show in Richmond. NBC host Megyn Kelly had her show canceled and was ousted from the network previous year, after she suggested that wearing blackface is acceptable as part of a costume. But he acknowledged he once used shoe polish to blacken his face and look like Michael Jackson at a dance contest in Texas in 1984, when he was in the Army.

But he also said: "This conduct is in no way reflective of the man I have become in the almost 40 years since".

Northam, who is white, initially apologised and conceded he was in the photo.

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