Washington Post Deflects from Virginia Dem’s Election While Serving Jail Sentence

On Tuesday, Joseph Morrissey, Democrat turned Independent, was elected to the Virginia legislature despite currently serving a jail sentence connected to his relationship with a 17-year-old girl who worked in his law office. 

In the Washington Post’s coverage of the scandal-plagued politician on Wednesday, reporters Laura Vozzella and Jenna Portnoy insisted that Morrissey’s current prison status won’t be a headache for Democrats but rather is “an embarrassment in the state capitol, which is still absorbing the news that a popular former governor, Robert F. McDonnell (R-VA), appears headed to federal prison.” 

From the Post article: 

Legislators from across Virginia returned Wednesday to a Capitol where the issues of campus sexual assault, ethics reform and a budget shortfall await — along with a jailed state delegate who won election Tuesday night and hopes to legislate by day while on work release.

After Del. Joseph D. Morrissey’s win in the special election, the House is expected to move quickly to begin proceedings to expel or otherwise discipline him. He had resigned after being convicted last month of a misdemeanor connected to his relationship with a 17-year-old receptionist who worked in his law office.

The piece then did its best to distract from Morrissey’s crime by highlighting the fall of former Governor Bob McDonnell: 

However it plays out, the Morrissey spectacle will be an embarrassment in the state Capitol, which is still absorbing the news that a popular former governor, Robert F. McDonnell (R), appears headed to federal prison. Convicted of corruption in September along with his wife, Maureen, McDonnell was sentenced last week to two years.

What’s more, authors Vozzella and Portnoy barely mentioned Morrissey’s ties to the Democratic Party and instead highlighted the bipartisan efforts to punish the newly elected delegate: 

House Speaker William J. Howell, a Stafford County Republican, and House Democrats have denounced Morrissey, a former Democrat who ran as an independent in Tuesday’s election. Howell suggested that Morrissey’s win does not eliminate the chamber’s ability to take action against him.”

The situation could translate into a rollicking first day of the 2015 legislative session, although it was not clear if House leaders, still privately discussing their options, would take any public action against him Wednesday. House officials do expect to swear Morrissey in Wednesday or soon after, something they would refuse to do only if the integrity of the election were in doubt.

After providing a mere 339 words out of the piece’s 1,348 to the disgraced former Democrat, the rest of the piece focused on the upcoming Virginia legislative session and included a promotion for Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe’s 2015 agenda: 

At this point, no single issue is threatening to dominate the 46-day session, unlike last year, when newly installed Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) pushed hard, but fruitlessly, to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.


Also Tuesday, McAuliffe announced a package of bills meant to improve how transportation dollars are spent. One element includes reforming the process by which the state builds roads under public-private partnerships. Critics blamed that process, in part, for a $1.4 billion “highway to nowhere” in southeastern Virginia that McAuliffe pulled the plug on early in his administration. McAuliffe announced the plan with the support of a high-powered Republican, Del. S. Chris Jones (Suffolk), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

— Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Jeffrey Meyer on Twitter.