Virginia Democrat Susanna Gibson is running neck and neck in one of the most competitive districts in this November’s state elections that will determine control of the Republican-held House of Delegates and the Democratic-run Senate of Virginia.
Pundits consider their outcome intertwined with Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s political aspirations. Seizing control of both chambers of the state legislature will cement Youngkin’s status as a Republican star, capable of making consistent inroads in a blue-leaning state.
But candidates like Gibson, a nurse practitioner and working mother of two, have given Republicans clinging to a narrow majority in the state house heartburn. Today, with tempers flaring and accusations flying, Gibson finds herself at the center of a raging political storm.
The Washington Post first reported on Gibson’s scandal after being alerted by a Republican operative. As late as last year, the Democrat and her husband were active on Chaturbate (an adult webcam streaming site) under the pseudonym “HotWifeExperience.”
On at least two occasions, Gibson solicited tips from her online audience while live-streaming. She told her 5,770 Chaturbate followers the “tips” made in exchange for private shows were “raising money for a good cause.” In at least one instance, her husband encouraged fans to tip as well. Chaturbate prohibits solicitation, stating in its terms and conditions that “Requesting or demanding specific acts for tips may result in a ban from the Platform for all parties involved.”
The X-rated romps remained publicly accessible on the website Recurbate after Gibson announced her campaign. Many erotic videos remained publicly available on other sites at least as late as this weekend. For her part, Gibson continued, at least initially during her campaign, to maintain her Chaturbate profile.
Chaturbate’s terms of conditions state: “Requesting or demanding specific acts for tips may result in a ban from the Platform for all parties involved.”
In a statement to the Washington Post, Gibson called the publicly posted videos “an illegal invasion of my privacy designed to humiliate me and my family.
“It won’t intimidate me and it won’t silence me,” Gibson 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.”
The candidate’s attorney, Daniel P. Watkins, told the outlet that the archived videos violated Virginia’s revenge porn law, which makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to “maliciously” circulate sexual images or another person’s nudity with “intent to coerce, harass, or intimidate.”
“We are working closely with state and federal law enforcement,” Wakins added. Still, it remains contestable why Gibson has a reasonable expectation of privacy regarding sexually explicit videos shared on non-password-protected websites.
For now, Gibson’s campaign against Republican David Owen to represent House District 57 in suburban Richmond continues. Owen, a retired contractor, responded to requests for comment with a written statement:
Me and my team found out about this story like everyone else. I’m sure this is a difficult time for Susanna and her family, and I’m remaining focused on my campaign.”
The Republican operative who alerted The Post to the videos’ existence denies any connection to Owens’ campaign.
Joe Szymanski, head of Decision Desk’s affiliated site Elections Daily, believes the development will not affect the race’s status. Szymanski concludes that “conventional wisdom favors Rs very slightly.”
Republicans control the Virginia House of Delegates by a three-vote margin, 49 to 46. Democrats have a four-vote edge in the Senate, 22 to 18.
Besides Youngkin’s political ambitions, the outcome of Election Day will determine how much of the governor’s political agenda, including a 15-week abortion ban (with exceptions), will survive the General Assembly intact.
This article first appeared in American Liberty News. Republished with permission.