VA Democratic Party not commenting on candidate sex videos

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As revelations that Henrico House of Delegates candidate Susanna Gibson streamed sex acts with her husband online make news from The New York Times to the Daily Mail in London, the Henrico Democrat has said that she will not be intimidated and has given no indication that she plans to leave the race.

But a number of prominent Virginia Democrats on Tuesday chose not to rally to her defense. 

For the second straight day, the Democratic Party of Virginia did not answer questions about Gibson and declined comment. Several prominent Virginia Democrats who have campaigned with Gibson, including Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. and Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, also were silent on the story Tuesday, offering no comment.

As of Tuesday afternoon neither Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, nor former House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, had responded to requests for comment. Along with Spanberger, Stoney and Filler-Corn are potential Democratic candidates for governor in 2025.

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  • Susanna Gibson

    Gibson

    Gibson campaign

    But state Sen. L. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, a senior Democrat who could become the next head of the Senate Finance Committee, backed Gibson on the site formerly known as Twitter.

    “Today Glenn Youngkin’s team leaked videos of @SusannaSGibson to try to embarrass and humiliate her and they failed completely,” Lucas wrote Monday afternoon. “Now we are going to make this the biggest fundraising day of her campaign,” she wrote, adding a link to actblue.com.

    The Washington Post reported Monday that it had viewed videos in which Gibson urged viewers to pay her and her husband with “tips” for performing certain sexual acts.

    Virginia Democratic House candidate, husband streamed sex acts online: report

    Gibson – who offered no new public statements on Tuesday – is in a high-profile contest with Republican David Owen in House District 57, which is based in western Henrico and includes part of Goochland County.

    In a statement provided to The Associated Press, Owen, said: “I’m sure this is a difficult time for Susanna and her family, and I’m remaining focused on my campaign.”

    Gibson’s husband, John David Gibson, is a lawyer and a board member for the McShin Recovery Resource Foundation in Richmond. He still holds his position with the foundation, according to McShin Chief Operating Officer Jesse Wysocki.

    “It’s obviously some type of political war going on between Democrats and Republicans,” Wysocki said.

    Owen-Gibson matchup for Henrico House seat one to watch for both parties

    Wysocki declined to comment on the reported sex acts but did say that McShin leadership has offered supporting words for John David Gibson.

    Calls to John David Gibson’s law office in Louisa County went to voicemail.

    Online, a number of unelected Democrats defended Susanna Gibson, who on Monday called exposure of the content “an illegal invasion of my privacy designed to humiliate me and my family.” Gibson accuses whoever exposed the online content of committing a sex crime.

    “It won’t intimidate me, and it won’t silence me,” she said. “My political opponents and their Republican allies have proven they’re willing to commit a sex crime to attack me and my family because there’s no line they won’t cross to silence women when they speak up.”

    In this year’s General Assembly session, Republicans held a four-seat edge in the House of Delegates, and Democrats held a four-seat edge in the state Senate. All 140 seats are up in November in an election that is crucial to the remainder of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s term.

    Youngkin, who took part in a “Parents Matter” town hall Tuesday in Loudoun County with GOP Senate candidate Juan Pablo Segura, said he is focused on GOP candidates for the legislature.

    “I am focusing on the Republican candidates – I think we have great candidates,” Youngkin said. As for the Gibson story, he said, “I think that’s a topic that she and the Democratic Party are going to have to deal with.”

    If Gibson were to step down ahead of the election, Democrats could choose a different nominee for the seat.

    Gibson won the Democratic nomination for the seat in a June primary, defeating Bob Shippee. Gibson, a nurse practitioner, won 55% of the vote and topped Shippee, a retired banking director who became a political advocate. Gibson claimed the nomination by roughly 600 votes.

    Under Virginia law, if the nominee of a party dies, withdraws or has their nomination “set aside for any reason,” the party “may nominate to fill the vacancy in accordance with its own rules.” The party chairman “shall promptly certify the name of any such nominee to the appropriate electoral boards” and “the nominee shall promptly comply” with the state’s filing standards.

    If Gibson were to step down, the Virginia Department of Elections would coordinate with Henrico and Goochland.

    A complication is that early, in-person voting begins on Sept. 22.

    As ballots are printed by local registrars’ offices, Virginia Department of Elections Andrea Gaines said that Gibson would be listed on ballots. Were she to withdraw, registrars would have to communicate that to the public. And, if someone else were to mount a campaign in Gibson’s place, they would be a write-in candidate at this point. 

    What’s more, Gaines said that some localities have already begun printing ballots.  

    Early voting runs from Sep. 22 through Nov. 4. Election Day is Nov. 7. 

    What to know about report that Va. Dem. House candidate performed sex online

    WHAT HAPPENED

    WHAT HAPPENED

    The Washington Post said it had viewed videos in which Gibson, a nurse practitioner, urged viewers to pay the couple with “tips” for performing certain requests, using the webcam platform Chaturbate. 

    Videos that are live-streamed on the site are sometimes available as an archive on other sites. According to the Post, over a dozen videos with Gibson’s Chaturbate username were archived on a site called Recurbate in September 2022 and it’s unclear when the live streams first occurred.

    PHOTO FROM GIBSON CAMPAIGN WEBSITE

    THE RESPONSE FROM GIBSON

    THE RESPONSE FROM GIBSON

    In a statement, Gibson called exposure of the content “an illegal invasion of my privacy designed to humiliate me and my family.”

    Gibson accuses whoever exposed the online content of committing a sex crime.

    “It won’t intimidate me and it won’t silence me,” she said. “My political opponents and their Republican allies have proven they’re willing to commit a sex crime to attack me and my family because there’s no line they won’t cross to silence women when they speak up.”

    A top-ranking Virginia Democrat immediately came to Gibson’s defense after the videos were reported by the Post. “Now we are going to make this the biggest fundraising day of her campaign,” Sen. L. Louise Lucas said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

    Garren Shipley, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker Todd Gilbert, did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

    PHOTO FROM GIBSON CAMPAIGN SOCIAL MEDIA

    THE RACE

    THE RACE

    Gibson and Republican David Owen are vying for the competitive House seat in District 57, which covers western Henrico County and part of Goochland County. About 54,000 registered voters are in the Henrico portion and 8,000 registered voters are in the Goochland part, according to Virginia Public Access Project data.

    After emerging victorious from a Democratic primary this summer, Gibson is facing Republican David Owen, former co-owner of a homebuilding company.

    Gibson’s website says she is a married mother of two and has lived in western Henrico County for over 10 years.

    Owen has raised $339,621 and Gibson has raised $376,895, according to the latest fundraising totals compiled by VPAP. 

    Early voting begins Sept. 22. Election Day is Nov. 7.

    Democrats control the Senate by a four-vote margin, and Republicans control the House of Delegates by the same margin, with four seats currently vacant. The parties are waging intense legislative battles as GOP rising national political star Gov. Glenn Youngkin looks to bolster his conservative agenda with full control of state government.

    Owen in a statement said: “I’m sure this is a difficult time for Susanna and her family, and I’m remaining focused on my campaign.”

    PHOTO FROM VIRGINIA PUBLIC ACCESS PROJECT

    THE LEGAL QUESTION

    THE LEGAL QUESTION

    The Post reported that “a Republican operative” alerted it to the Gibson videos listed on Recurbate.

    Gibson said that exposing the videos is “an illegal invasion of my privacy designed to humiliate me and my family.” Gibson’s attorney, Daniel P. Watkins, said that disseminating the videos is a violation of Virginia’s revenge porn law, which makes it a crime to “maliciously” disseminate or sell nude or sexual images of another person with the intent to “coerce, harass, or intimidate.”

    “A criminal act has occurred here, and that’s the dissemination of revenge porn by a Republican operative,” Watkins told the Associated Press.

    Watkins cited a 2021 Virginia Court of Appeals ruling that found it was unlawful for a man to secretly record his girlfriend during a consensual sexual encounter even if he did not show the video to other people. The court found that consent to being seen is not the same as consent to being recorded.

    Additionally, seeking tips may have been in violation of Chaturbate’s terms and conditions, which state that “requesting or demanding specific acts for tips may result in a ban from the platform for all parties involved.”

    According to the Post, the videos were still listed on Recurbate as of Saturday but were no longer available for viewing at that time after the unidentified Republican operative alerted the publication to the content. The Post reported that videos of Gibson did remain on another non-password-protected site, which The Post viewed for its reporting.

    While Gibson did originally post content to Chaturbate, a password-protected site for its users, it’s unclear if she consented to the content being archived on other sites.

    Her campaign did not specify when The Times-Dispatch asked if Gibson knew content posted to Chaturbate would be archived elsewhere.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

    PHOTO BY PIXABAY

    Charlotte Rene Woods (804) 649-6254

    cwoods@timesdispatch.com

    Andrew Cain, Michael Martz and Thad Green contributed to this report.

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