Republican leadership in the Virginia legislature says efforts to form a bipartisan committee to investigate rape claims made against Democratic lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax have been stalled by Democrats.
House speaker Kirk Cox told the Washington Post on Thursday that he has asked his Democratic colleagues to join him on a 10-person investigative committee, with five members from each party, arguing that accusers Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson "deserve a voice."
"We need to work on a process to do that," Cox says he told the Democrats. "And I would like for you to come alongside us."
Fairfax was first accused of rape by Tyson, who said he forced her to perform oral sex on him while they were both staff members at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Fairfax was then accused of rape by Watson, who recounted a similar experience when they were both students at Duke University.
Democrats confirmed Cox's offer to the Post and said the concern was that the investigative panel could "impede possible criminal investigations."
House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) confirmed that she and other Democratic leaders have met with Cox but said that they were concerned that an investigative panel could impede possible criminal investigations.
"Nobody wants this to turn into a political, partisan show," Filler-Corn said.
She also said she was wary of agreeing to the formation of the committee without more details. "We asked for the specifics: ‘What are you talking about? What would this look like? How would this be done?'" […]
"They [Republicans] seem to think that they have ideas as to how this could transpire," Filler-Corn said. "We have yet to see the details. So until we know, we cannot make a decision ourselves."
A spokesman for Fairfax said, "it would be extraordinary and unprecedented to initiate a General Assembly inquiry about matters that are better left to law enforcement."