Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is once again raising tens of thousands of dollars for his political action committee, over two months after two women accused him of sexual assault.
Andrew Rosen, the CEO of the test prep company Kaplan, cut Fairfax’s political action committee a $50,000 check on April 15, according to financial disclosure forms.
Fairfax spokeswoman Lauren Burke says that check is on top of an additional $25,000 in contributions from other donors that is expected to show up in disclosure reports over the next few days. Fairfax also has two fundraisers scheduled in the next ten days.
The fundraising blitz comes after a lull in donations following two seperate allegations of sexual assault that emerged in early February. Meredith Watson accused Fairfax of raping her when they were undergraduates at Duke University; Scripps College professor Vanessa Tyson says Fairfax forced himself on her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
The allegations emerged after it appeared Fairfax might step in for Governor Ralph Northam. Northam faced widespread calls to resign in the wake of a racist yearbook photo; many Democratic groups and lawmakers also called for Fairfax to step aside.
“Justin Fairfax is a longtime friend,” Rosen said in a statement. “These are serious allegations, and both sides deserve an opportunity to have a full and impartial investigation into the facts.”
Rosen knows Fairfax through their shared affiliation with Duke University, according to a spokesman for Rosen. Both men got their undergraduate degree there, albeit almost two decades apart.
The check from Rosen marks Fairfax’s first major PAC receipt since early January. It makes Rosen the top contributor to the PAC, according to data compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project. Rosen has given infrequent, smaller donations to Democrats, including around $2,000 to Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton in 2008 and $10,000 to the Democratic Executive Committee of Floridia in 2016, but the Fairfax check appears to be his largest.
Two staffers left Fairfax’s PAC in the wake of the accusations. Those positions have now been filled, Burke said. Fairfax was considered a top contender for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2021 before the women came forward in February. Burke didn’t rule out a potential run, but said Fairfax's focus was elsewhere.
“He's focused now on doing a good job as Lt. Governor and clearing his name of false allegations,” Burke wrote in a text message.
Northam's PAC also pulled a major donation in the past week, with a $10,000 check on April 17 from Charlottesville-based investor Robert Hardie--the first donation of that size since January. Hardie didn't immediately respond to a request for an interview.
Jamie Maniscalco, PAC's finance director, left in the wake of the yearbook photo to start her own firm, which now consults with House of Delegates minority leader Eileen Filler-Corn's new PAC, Energized for Change.
“I had long wanted to open my own firm and that’s what I had the opportunity to do by starting Theia Solutions Inc.,” Maniscalco said in an email.
Rich Meagher, associate professor of political science at Randolph-Macon College, said there was always a market for access and influence to politicians, even ones with political baggage.
“If a political official is hanging around in office, someone is going to cut him a check,” Meagher said. “You can say, ‘Remember when you weren’t getting money from anyone else? You got it from me. And so now I am a voice that should be listened to.’”