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Ralph Northam pardons Virginia State Senator Joe Morrissey

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Ralph Northam pardons Virginia State Senator Joe Morrissey

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The incumbent Virginia governor has pardoned a state senator who was jailed after a sex scandal involving a 17-year-old receptionist who later became his wife.

Sen. Joe Morrissey told The Associated Press that Governor Ralph Northam, a fellow Democrat, pardoned the 2014 misdemeanor on Thursday.

“I’m very grateful to the governor,” Morrissey said Friday.

“As I’ve said many times on the floor of the State Senate: When you show compassion to others and show mercy, it’s not a sign of weakness, but usually just the opposite – of strength,” Morrissey added.

Morrissey’s pardon was first reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Northam leaves office on Saturday. He said in a press release that he had granted pardons to more than 1,200 Virginians over the past four years, including the exoneration of eight wrongly convicted people.

“Virginians are forgiving people who believe in second chances,” Northam said in a statement. “When people make mistakes and pay their debts, they deserve the opportunity to come back and be productive members of society.”

Forgiveness is another rung on the redemption ladder for Morrissey, 64, a scandal-ridden politician who was twice disbarred and calls himself “Fighting Joe”. “

The pardon stems from a scandal that began when Morrissey was in the House of Delegates nearly eight years ago. He resigned from his seat after being found guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, his receptionist at his law firm.

Morrissey was re-elected as an independent in a special election a month later. For the next two months he spent his days working at the General Assembly. But he served his nights in jail as part of a labor release sentence on the conviction, for which he is now pardoned.

In March 2015, Morrissey resigned his House seat to run for the Virginia State Senate, but failed to qualify for the Democratic primary ballot.

In 2016, he was the favorite in the Richmond mayoral race until a legal client accused him of making unwanted sexual advances and sending obscene text messages.

In 2019, Morrissey defeated Democratic Senator Rosalyn Dance in a primary election and won the general election.

Representing Richmond-area parties, the state senator became one of the most prolific sponsors of criminal justice reform bills, many aimed at ending the disparate treatment of African Americans. and other minorities, groups that are among its biggest supporters.

Morrissey said he and his wife were both “thrilled” with the pardon.

“The people who are even happier are our four young children, who will figure it out in the years and decades to come,” Morrissey said.

Morrissey said his lawyers will use the pardon to immediately pursue the return of his law license.

“It’s beyond symbolic,” Morrissey said. “It sends a strong message about what the Commonwealth has done to us.”

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.

Ralph Northam pardons Virginia State Senator Joe Morrissey

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