Joe Morrissey sworn in amid controversy

Following conviction, Morrissey wins Henrico county seat


Del. Joe Morrissey ran as an independent, winning 42 percent of the vote in Henrico County.

Del. Joe Morrissey, D-Henrico, won re-election in the Virginia House of Delegates Tuesday after resigning his position last month upon being convicted of a misdemeanor following claims of sexual impropriety with a 17-year-old female who worked for him.

This month, the 57-year-old, 1979 CLAS graduate was charged and convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor — a misdemeanor for which he was sentenced six months in jail. Morrissey still denies the charges levied against him, but entered an Alford Plea in court, asserting his innocence but admitting the evidence against him would likely lead to a guilty verdict at trial. This plea reduced what would have been a felony charge to a misdemeanor.

“Expulsion would be more than a possibility,” Surovell said in a press release. “It would be a probability.”

The original charges against Morrissey included indecent liberties, possession of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and electronic solicitation of a minor. The minimum sentence for distribution of child pornography alone is five years in federal prison.

Morrissey’s plea, however, allowed him to pursue his renewed campaign in the special election through a work-release agreement that has reduced his total sentence down to 90 days. The agreement allows Morrissey to leave the jail for up to 12 hours during the day and return at night. He must wear an ankle monitor, and his car is tracked with GPS.

In his most recent campaign, Morrissey ran as an Independent and defeated both Democrat Kevin Sullivan and Republican Matt Walton. He garnered 42 percent of the total votes, while Sullivan and Walton totaled 33 percent and 24 percent of the total votes, respectively.

Although re-elected by Virginia citizens, Morrissey has not received the same support from other members in the House of Delegates. In a joint public statement, Minority Leader David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, and Democratic Caucus Chair Scott Surovell denied affiliation with the recently re-elected delegate.

“Joe Morrissey chose to run as an Independent; he is not a member of the Democratic Party, nor is he a member of the House Democratic Caucus,” Toscano and Surovell said. “His conviction and actions over the past two months were reprehensible, and we will be exploring every avenue in regard to his status as a member of the House of Delegates.”

Both Republican and Democrat representatives have made efforts to censure Morrissey.

“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,” Republican Speaker of the House William Howell said in a statement Tuesday. “It is said quite often — public service is a privilege. None of us are entitled to the seats we hold in this body.”

House legislators could expel Morrissey completely or censure him. The process to either expel or censure Morrissey could be initiated by filing a resolution through a special committee that then reaches the legislative body as a whole after hearings. To expel Morrissey would require a two-thirds vote, and to censure him would require a simple majority.

“Expulsion would be more than a possibility,” Surovell said. “It would be a probability.”

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