Democratic megadonor backs out of fundraising gala, citing party’s decision to let LG Justin Fairfax speak

Democratic megadonor backs out of fundraising gala, citing party’s decision to let LG Justin Fairfax speak
Justin Fairfax (Source: NBC12)

A top donor to Virginia Democrats has pulled his group’s sponsorship of the Democratic Party of Virginia’s annual fundraising gala, saying party officials had told him they will allow Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax to speak despite the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him last year.

In a statement Friday, Michael Bills, a Charlottesville investor who donated almost $1.5 million to Democratic committees last year, said he was withdrawing a “top-tier” gala sponsorship by Clean Virginia, the energy reform group whose board he chairs. Clean Virginia had agreed to be a $10,000 sponsor for the Democrats’ Blue Commonwealth Gala, which will take place Saturday night at Main Street Station in downtown Richmond. The group had not yet given the party a check, so there’s no demand for a refund.

Bills noted that he had joined Democrats in calling for Fairfax’s resignation last year after two women publicly accused him of sexual assault.

“In the year since, he has used his position of power to further attack his accusers,” Bills said. “I remain resolute in my conviction that Fairfax needs to resign. Particularly coupled with the lack of hearings in the House of Delegates into the allegations against him, I am gravely concerned that granting Fairfax the honor of speaking at the gala sends an exculpatory message I do not believe is merited and in which Clean Virginia will have no part.”

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.