Nasty Social Media Message Attacks Virginia’s Speaker of the House

Speaker Don Scott

by Kerry Dougherty

Great. Just what embattled Virginia Republicans need now: an ugly social media post attacking the new speaker of the House of Delegates over a crime he committed and did time for almost 30 years ago.

It’s no secret that Portsmouth Democrat Don Scott was convicted on drug charges in 1994 and served seven years in prison for his crime. He was released, turned his life around, became a lawyer, a member of the House of Delegates and was elected speaker this year.

The Washington Post sums up Scott’s biography this way:

Scott was convicted of carrying drug-related money across state lines just as he finished law school in Louisiana. Years after his release, Scott had his Virginia voting rights restored by then-governor Robert McDonnell (R), got his law license and has risen rapidly through the ranks at the General Assembly to become the first Black speaker in state history.

Oh, and when his friend and neighbor, Portsmouth Circuit Court Judge Johnny Morrison, needed a kidney, Scott donated his.

That’s an extraordinary act of generosity.

Look, I don’t agree with Scott’s politics and I think that most of the initiatives Virginia Democrats are pushing are radical and bad for the commonwealth. The party’s soft-on-crime positions are long-standing and detrimental to public safety.

But that has nothing to do with Scott’s past.

Seems to me that those of us who consider ourselves tough on crime should cheer when someone turns his life around and becomes a productive member of society.

Yet some smart-aleck at the Republican Party of Virginia thought it would be cute to send out the following Tweet yesterday:

It was deleted, but many fast-thinking folks made screenshots.

GOP party chair, Rich Anderson immediately denounced the attack and promised to make “personnel changes.”

Anderson tweeted:

(1/2) Today, I learned of a very personal attack on (Don Scott) that does not reflect my values or that of our party. I had neither seen nor approved the tweet—but the buck stops with me. I directed its immediate removal and will be making personnel changes effective today….

(2/2) I have seen a story of redemption play out in my own family, so this is personal for me and compels me to express my sincere regret and apology. We will battle on the policy front, but in Virginia certain things are off limits.

Anderson later told The Washington Post he had fired the culprit.

The Post reported that “Scott was visibly angry when asked about the post by reporters.” Republicans say one thing in person, he said, “and then they go behind my back and don’t have the balls to come to my face to say stuff like that. And then, what’s really sad about it is, if I am what they say I am, how the hell do they keep losing to me?”


State Sen. Louise Lucas was quick to blame the governor for the social media post, but that’s her go-to position and her loathing of the governor is unfounded and well-documented.

As it happens, Glenn Youngkin condemned the Tweet as well:

This comment is unforgivable. Today, I’ve personally expressed to Speaker Scott my deep respect for him and his life journey, this kind of personal attack has no place in Virginia or anywhere.

Chicago’s famous newspaper columnist Mike Royko once quipped that “Politics ain’t beanbag.”

He was right. Politics is cutthroat and nasty. But with the state legislature in the hands of Democrats and the top three jobs in the hands of the GOP it is critical that the parties work together to get things done for the commonwealth.

This latest vitriol from the official social media account of the Republican Party isn’t helpful. It drives the two parties farther apart. This is a time the governor desperately needs the Democrats to work with him on an arena deal for Northern Virginia.

Unfortunately, it’s the ordinary, decent Virginians who pay the price for this childish name-calling.

Cut it out. Stop the juvenile social media wars. That goes for both sides, by the way.

Republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed and Unedited.