In the latest bizarre twist to the multiple scandals rocking Virginia government, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has retained the same law firm that represented now-Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he was going through the confirmation process and faced decades-old sexual misconduct allegations, Fox News has learned.
The woman accusing Fairfax of rape, Dr. Vanessa C. Tyson, meanwhile, has hired the attorneys who represented Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh’s accuser, who alleged that he’d thrown her onto a bed and muffled her screams at a high school party.
Fairfax hired the boutique trial firm Wilkinson Walsh Eskovitz last year, when Tyson first took her allegations to The Washington Post.
The Post, which first published Ford’s bombshell claims just days before Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation was set for a crucial Senate vote, said it declined to publish Tyson’s account at the time because it “could not find anyone who could corroborate” her statements.
But The Post disputed Fairfax’s claim that the newspaper had found “red flags” and “inconsistencies” in Tyson’s account.
Wilkinson founding partner Beth Wilkinson was one of the lead prosecutors in the Oklahoma City bombings, according to her law firm biography page. The firm, which has offices in New York, Washington and Los Angeles, primarily handles complex litigation — and has represented clients in proceedings involving the Justice Department and Congress.
Meanwhile, Katz, Marshall & Banks LLP, which is representing Tyson, has been a more visible national presence in recent months than Wilkinson’s attorneys. Attorney Debra Katz, a liberal activist who previously downplayed sexual misconduct allegations against former President Bill Clinton and former Sen. Al Franken, appeared at Ford’s side during her explosive — and uncorroborated — testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last year.
Tyson, a professor at Scripps College in California, alleged in a graphic statement released by Katz’s firm on Wednesday that Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex in late July 2004, during the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
“With tremendous anguish, I am now sharing this information about my experience and setting the record straight. It has been extremely difficult to relive that traumatic experience from 2004. Mr. Fairfax has tried to brand me as a liar to a national audience, in service to his political ambitions, and has threatened litigation. Given his false assertions, I’m compelled to make clear what happened,” she said in the statement.
Hours before the release, Fairfax put out his own updated statement, forcefully denying the allegations but saying that “while this allegation has been both surprising and hurtful, I also recognize that no one makes charges of this kind lightly, and I take it and this situation very seriously.”
Fairfax reiterated that he had a “consensual encounter with the woman who made the allegation” when he was an unmarried law student.
Fairfax added, “These are unprecedented and difficult times. We have the opportunity to prove ourselves worthy of the challenge and come together. I look forward to continuing my work to unify the Commonwealth.”
Should Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam step aside because of his own controversy — a blackface photograph that recently surfaced on his page in his medical school yearbook, Fairfax would be next in the line of succession to replace him. But that prospect looked increasingly unlikely on Wednesday, with party leaders calling the allegations against Fairfax serious, and freshman Virginia Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton tweeting her support for Tyson.
Adding to the circumstances roiling politics in Virginia, State Attorney General Mark Herring, the next in the line of succession, posted a lengthy statement on Wednesday admitting he, too, had donned blackface — this, during a college party in 1980. He said he’d brown makeup and a wig to look like a black rapper during a party at the University of Virginia.
Kirk Cox, the conservative Republican speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, follows Herring in the line of succession under the state Constitution, and would assume the governorship if Northam, Fairfax and Herring were to step aside. .
Cox rose to the prominent post because the name of a Republican candidate for the state legislature was drawn randomly out of a ceramic bowl created by a local artist to break a tie in 2017.
Fox News’ Garrett Tenney and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.