Voters return convicted politician to House of Delegates
Rare bipartisan unity is breaking out in Richmond on the eve of the beginning of the 2015 Virginia General Assembly session in the wake of Tuesday’s surprise win for Joe Morrissey, who resigned his Richmond-area seat in the House of Delegates after pleading to misdemeanor charges in a sex scandal involving a teenage employee.
Morrissey, running as an independent, won a three-way special election with 42 percent of the vote, but he may face another challenge before returning to the State Capitol, in the form of legislators from both sides of the political aisle who say they are considering all options for dealing with Morrissey.
“Joe Morrissey chose to run as an Independent; he is not a member of the Democratic Party, nor is he a member of the House Democratic Caucus. His conviction and actions over the past two months were reprehensible, and we will be exploring every avenue in regard to his status as a member of the House of Delegates,” said House Democratic Leader David Toscano and House Democratic Caucus Chair Scott Surovell in a joint statement.
House Speaker Bill Howell, R-Stafford, said late Tuesday that Morrissey’s election “does not change the fact that his actions fall grievously short of the standards of a public servant in the House of Delegates.”
“As Speaker, I have an obligation to faithfully and impartially discharge my duties as presiding officer and a responsibility to protect the honor and integrity of the House of Delegates as an institution,” Howell said. “There are a number of options available to the body to address questions of conduct regarding its members. These options are set out in the Constitution of Virginia and the rules of the House. Working with House Minority Leader David Toscano and other members of the House, we will begin the process of assessing these options in order to determine the appropriate path forward.”