RICHMOND, Va. — Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of Virginia issued a statement Monday morning denying an unsubstantiated allegation of sexual assault that a right-wing media site published amid extraordinary political turmoil in the state that has raised the possibility of Mr. Fairfax becoming the next governor.
In a statement issued at 2:55 a.m., aides to Mr. Fairfax — a Democrat who has drawn national attention as Gov. Ralph Northam considers resigning over past racist behavior — said the allegation was “false” and that Mr. Fairfax had “never assaulted anyone — ever — in any way, shape or form.” The aides said that Mr. Fairfax is considering “appropriate legal action against those attempting to spread this defamatory and false allegation.”
The Fairfax aides said The Washington Post investigated the allegation around the time of the lieutenant governor’s inauguration in January 2018 and chose not to publish a story.
A spokeswoman for The Post did not immediately have a comment on the statement.
The Times has reached out to intermediaries for the woman who has made the allegation. They did not immediately comment on Monday morning.
As Mr. Northam met Monday morning with advisers in the state capitol complex here to discuss his future, stunned legislators arrived to word of the middle-of-the-night statement by the Fairfax aides after the publication of the story by the right-wing website, Big League Politics.
The allegation threw Virginia’s government into a deeper state of chaos, just two days after Mr. Northam admitted that in 1984 he had used shoe polish to darken his face for a Michael Jackson-themed dance party but denied in the same year that he had appeared in blackface or a Ku Klux Klan robe.
Arriving to the state capitol for the Legislature’s weekly session on Monday, House Speaker Kirk Cox told reporters he did not want to pursue impeachment against Mr. Northam, saying that he hoped the governor would quit of his volition. He acknowledged that he was unsure if Mr. Northam’s conduct met the threshold for impeachment.
After the 39-year-old Mr. Fairfax, the third in line to become governor is the state attorney general, Mark Herring, a Democrat who had already indicated plans to run for governor in 2021.