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Is Ralph Northam Trying To Pay Off Fellow Democrats Who Wanted To Impeach Him?

Jeff Katz
June 10, 2019 - 4:23 pm

So it appears Gov. Ralph Northam wasn't doing nothing during his little hiatus from the public eye after his blackface photo scandal.

Northam's political action committee in the past two months has donated $85,000 to 13 Democratic candidates running for Virginia state office, many of whom had called on the governor to resign after the racist yearbook page surfaced.

There were also bipartisan leaders who called for his resignation and the consensus seemed to be he'd be all but useless in helping Democrats campaign to gain control of the state House and Senate in November. 

However, many of those candidates who condemned Northam and wanted him gone in February have had no problem taking his money.

Northam's PAC isn't required to disclose its activity until later this summer, but candidates in next Tuesday's state legislature primary elections were required to produce pre-primary reports disclosing donations from April 1 to May 31.

Those reports revealed 11 House candidates and two state Senate candidates were recipients of money from Northam, according to newly available campaign finance data on Virginia Public Access Project.

All three of the incumbent delegates who reported they had accepted money from Northam—Kelly Fowler, Dawn Adams, and Schuyler VanValkenburg — previously called for Northam to resign after his blackface scandal.

"Anything less than resignation is unacceptable," Fowler said in early February. She received a $5,000 contribution from Northam's Way Ahead PAC on May 1.

Adams, who also took a $5,000 contribution from Northam's PAC on May 24, called for Northam to resign within days of the photo's release. VanValkenburg, who said Northam "lost the confidence" of Virginia and "must resign," took $5,000 from Northam on May 21.

Delegate John Bell, who is now running for a seat in the state Senate, took $15,000 from Northam. Bell called for Northam to resign on Feb. 1.

The other Democratic candidates who reported taking money from Northam were Alex Askew, Larry Barnett, Sheila Bynum Coleman, Nancy Guy, Clint Jenkins, Karen Mallard, Shelly Simonds, and Rodney Willett—they each received $5,000. Missy Cotter Smasal, running for a Senate seat, received $15,000.

Even more interesting is the fact that for most of these candidates the contributions from Northman's PAC are the largest they have received in the pre-primary filing period.

Republicans currently hold a one-seat majority in both the House and the Senate. In 2017, Republicans lost 15 seats in the House of Delegates and held on to the majority by winning a tiebreaker.

The Democratic candidates who took money from Northam are running in districts that could potentially flip control to the Dems. Many voiced their disapproval of the governor as well as called for his resignation.

State Delegate Nick Freitas joined Jeff to discuss these findings and what it says about his colleagues in Congress and Gov. Northam. Listen below.