Joseph Morrissey will likely not be expelled despite being elected to the House of Delegates in Virginia while serving a prison sentence.
Morrissey resigned in December after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, rather than face felony charges including possession of child pornography, indecent liberties with a minor and electronic solicitation of a minor, reported Politico.
But he chose to enter the special election for his seat as an independent, and defeated Democrat Kevin Sullivan and Republican Matt Walton with a comfortable margin.
He entered from jail, but spent time campaigning during the day while wearing a monitoring device.
While it’s unclear whether Democrats will try to expel Morrissey, the Richmond Times-Dispatch says that it’s unlikely.
“You have to recognize that people had an opportunity to vote, they knew what he did, and they decided to send him back anyway,” said House Minority Leader David Toscano, D-Charlottesville.
Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington, said that the win makes it more difficult to be expelled.
“The failure of Democrats to put forward a candidate who could beat Morrissey has created a new problem for them,” Farnsworth said. “The voters in the district knew exactly what they were getting, and they selected him.”
The House Democrats told the House GOP that they would take the lead in exploring how to expel Morrissey, but the Republicans said the Democrats changed their mind following the re-election on Tuesday. They’re now asking the Republicans to take the lead.
Toscano framed it as a widespread effort by both parties.
“It doesn’t make sense for one party to take the lead, we’ve got to be together on this. That’s part of the discussions that are going on,” he said.
Morrissey was indicted in June 2014 for allegedly having sex with a 17-year-old girl in his office. He also possessed a nude photograph of the minor, which he sent to a friend, police say.
Police later found the girl at Morrissey’s home in Henrico County.