Days after being accused of rape by former Duke classmate Meredith Watson, Justin Fairfax is still refusing to step down from his role as Virginia’s lieutenant governor. His staff, on the other hand, doesn’t appear to share that same commitment to prolonging the inevitable.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on Monday that, in the wake of the second allegation against Fairfax—he’s denied Watson’s allegation and one made by Dr. Vanessa Tyson that he sexually assaulted her in 2004—most of Fairfax’s staffers in both his government office and at his PAC resigned on Monday. Policy director Adele McClure and scheduling director Julia Billingsly quit, as did We Rise Together PAC Executive Director Dave Mills and fundraiser Courtney McCargo.
Mills, as the Times-Dispatch points out, is the husband of Virginia state senator Jennifer McClellan, who’s considered a contender to replace Fairfax should he resign. Should McClellan assume the lieutenant governorship and Gov. Ralph Northam finally resign over the blackface scandal that’s engulfed Virginia, McClellan would be the first black woman to serve as governor of any U.S. state.
Losing his staff wasn’t the only bad news Fairfax got on Monday. The law firm Morrison and Foerster, where Fairfax is a partner, placed him on leave pending an investigation into the allegations. (Lieutenant governor is a part-time position in Virginia. According to the Times-Dispatch, the job paid a salary of $36,321 in 2016.)
As of now, Fairfax has just two staffers left: communications director Lauren Burke, who’s still employed by the PAC, according to the Times-Dispatch, and chief of staff Larry Roberts. Burke downplayed the departures.
“This is a part-time office, so it’s not a big staff to begin with,” Burke told the Washington Post. Later, she emailed a statement saying Fairfax “appreciates the amazing service of his former staff members.”