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Jailed Joe Morrissey Resigns, but Will Run in Special Election

Serving jail time for sleeping with 17-year-old, Morrissey fights to keep seat

Virginia Delegate Joseph D. Morrissey / AP
• December 19, 2014 11:40 am

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Virginia state delegate Joe Morrissey, who is in jail after he pleaded guilty to charges relating to a relationship with his teenage office assistant, has agreed to resign. However, he announced that he will run in the special election to be held in January.

Morrissey reluctantly agreed to resign from his seat in the Virginia House of Delegates on Thursday, but is hopeful that he could win a special election on January 13 and keep his seat, according to a report in Richmond’s CBS 6.

"Right now there is a bit of a cloud or a taint over my seat," said Morrissey. "Folks from the governor’s office on down have called for my resignation. And I have given and done everything that my detractors have said."

Morrissey does not think it should have come to this.

"There is no absolutely case precedent or Constitutional precedent to stepping down because of a misdemeanor conviction," Morrissey said.

The General Assembly is scheduled to reconvene the day following the special election, and a vote by a two thirds majority to expel Morrissey could seal his fate, even if he won the special election.

Late last week, Morrissey accepted guilt for the charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, though he previously faced far more severe charges relating to his relationship with a 17-year-old that was working in his law office.

He was accepted into a work-release program, which allowed him to be monitored by the sheriff’s office as he commuted to work from jail.

Campaigning to win his special election from his jail cell will be harder now that authorities have taken that permission away.

Authorities announced on Thursday that this permission had been revoked because Morrissey broke the conditions of the agreement by traveling to places other than his office.

The Republican speaker of the House of Delegates called Morrissey’s decision to run for reelection "selfish and disrespectful."

"Mr. Morrissey’s decision to run in this election is deceitful, selfish and disrespectful to this institution and the people he supposedly desires to serve," said Speaker William J. Howell. "This is a despicable, arrogant political stunt that should disgust each and every citizen of Virginia."

He added that the responsibility now falls on the people of Henrico county "to retire Mr. Morrissey permanently."

Published under: Crime Blotter