Joseph Morrissey was re-elected as a representative in the Virginia House of Delegates in a special election on Tuesday, despite serving jail time during his campaign for an alleged relationship with his 17-year-old receptionist.
Morrissey pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor last month, resulting in a six-month jail sentence. He plead guilty in the face of felony charges for possession of child pornography, indecent liberties with a minor, and electronic solicitation of a minor. Morrissey was forced to resign his seat when he was charged with the misdemeanor, and the special election was held to fill his seat. Morrissey then ran as an independent in a three-way race against Democrat Kevin Sullivan and Republican Matt Walton in a highly democratic seat. He was allowed to campaign and serve his jail sentence simultaneously due to the jail’s work release program. The program both allowed Morrissey to spend up to 12 hours a day outside the jail, and reduced his sentence from six months to 90 days.
The House of Delegates is now considering ways to bar Morrissey from serving in the legislature. “Mr. Morrissey’s election tonight does not change the fact that his actions fall grievously short of the standards of a public servant in the House of Delegates,” said House of Delegates Speaker William Howell (R). “There are a number of options available to the body to address questions of conduct regarding its members,” he continued.
Media Resources: Richmond Times-Dispatch 1/13/15; CNN 1/14/15; Washington Post 1/13/15;