Politician Convicted for Relationship with Minor Wins Election from Jail

AP Photo/Steve Helber
AP Photo/Steve Helber
Richmond, VA

Disgraced Delegate Joe Morrissey won a special election Tuesday to reclaim a seat he relinquished after agreeing to a plea deal concerning his relationship with a 17-year-old minor. His overnight stays in jail didn’t prevent the former Democrat, an outspoken liberal, from defeating both Republican and Democrat opponents.

In the low-turnout special election, Morrissey, running as in Independent, captured 42% of the vote. Democrat Kevin Sullivan received 33% while Republican Matt Walton won 24%.

Morrissey is serving a 6-month jail term after pleading guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The charges stemmed from allegations over an improper relationship with a 17 year old employee of his legal practice.

Morrissey had been disbarred by Virginia for a decade due to improper and unethical behavior. His license to practice in the Commonwealth was reinstated three years ago. He is still barred from practicing in federal court.

House Speaker William Howell, a Republican, and House Minority Leader David Toscano both said Morrissey was unfit to serve in the legislature.

“Mr. Morrissey’s election tonight does not change the fact that his actions fall grievously short of the standards of a public servant in the House of Delegates,” House Speaker Howell said in a statement.

Two thirds of the 100 member House of Delegates could vote to expel Morrissey, despite his win in the special election. The VA House hasn’t taken such a step since 1876.