Good morning and happy Thursday!
Here are the top four stories to start your day:
1: Virginia’s Top Three Officials Are Now Engulfed in Scandal
It was just under a week ago that a conservative website published a page from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s (D) yearbook featuring a racist picture of man dressed in blackface standing next to someone in a Ku Klux Klan hood. The picture led to a wide array of political figures calling for Northam to resign.
Earlier this week, the Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who is next in line to be governor if Northam resigns, was accused of sexual assault. Fairfax denied the allegations and initially suggested they were spread by Northam or the Mayor or Richmond Levar Stoney (D).
On Wednesday, the Attorney General of Virginia Mark Herring (D), who is second in line to the executive mansion, admitted that he wore blackface at an undergraduate student party.
The allegation against Fairfax as well as the admissions of Northam and Herring have led Democrats in Virginia about who would lead the state if all three of those officials resigned and about the future of the party in the state.
If Northam, Fairfax, and Herring resigned without a replacement, the House Speaker Kirk Cox (R) would become governor. Despite the State Democrats’ victories in statewide elections, Republicans were able to hold onto their majority in Virginia’s House of Delegates last year because of a tie in an election which was decided by officials drawing names out of a hat to decide the winner.
2: Former NYTimes Editor Accused of Plagiarism
The former editor of The New York Times, Jill Abramson, has been accused of plagiarism The Hill reports.
Abramson was accused of plagiarizing in her new book “Merchants of Truth” by Vice News correspondent Michael Moynihan who sent out a series of tweets claiming that her book is “clotted with mistakes” about Vice News and that it contained “plagiarized passages.”
In a statement, Abramson said she stands by her previous work and denied that she plagiarized passages, pointing to her footnotes.
3: House Dems Take First Step to View Trump’s Tax Returns
House Democrats are scheduled to hold hearings on how to privately obtain and view President Trump’s tax returns, ABC News reports.
The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight’s hearing on Thursday will feature several tax law experts and will examine ways that Democrats can acquire Trump’s tax returns through existing laws.
Since the 2016 election, Democrats have demanded that Trump release his tax returns and recently Congressional Democrats have sought his returns to help their investigations into his personal finances and business dealings.
4: Report Says New York’s Voting Reforms Will Cost $27 Million to Implement.
A new report from researchers at New York University’s Wagner School of Politics says the state’s new voting reforms, including early voting and make state and federal primaries the same day, will cost $27 million, the Albany Times Union reported.
The report says that while the upfront costs are high, over time the reforms will save the state money.
Scheduling federal and state primaries on the same day would save the state $36 million dollars over the next decade, researchers said. Currently, New York is the only state to have a separate day for state and federal primaries.
The report says that implementing early voting in every county will cost $12.5 million in the first year and another $3.4 million per election. However, the Times Union reports that election commission officials say that adding new technology to make early voting efficient will cost and additional $14.9 million.
NYU’s researchers interviewed election officials and found that most viewed the reforms positively and were accepting of the cost as long as there was funding to implement them.
However, a measure put forward by Cuomo to fund the implementation of the voting reforms was rejected and currently there is no money allocated in the state budget for the implementation of those reforms.