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Joe Morrissey resigns from General Assembly, but will run again during special election

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RICHMOND, Va.  --  Embattled Virginia State Delegate Joe Morrissey (D – Henrico) announced Thursday morning that he will resign from his seat in the General Assembly Thursday.

In fact, CBS 6 reporter Jake Burns tweeted that Morrissey has already tendered his resignation.

However, Morrissey said he wants voters to decide his political future. As a result, Morrissey said he will run again for his seat during a special election on Jan. 13. That's also the day Morrissey's resignation will go into effect.

William J. Howell (R-Stafford), the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, slammed Morrissey's decision.

“Mr. Morrissey’s decision to run in this election is deceitful, selfish and disrespectful to this institution and the people he supposedly desires to serve,"  Howell said in a statement. "This is a despicable, arrogant political stunt that should disgust each and every citizen of Virginia. The people of the 74th district deserve better than this and the obligation now rests with them to retire Mr. Morrissey permanently."

When asked why he is stepping down if he is going to run again, Morrissey said that his constituents must ultimately decide.

“Right now there is a bit of a cloud or a taint over my seat. Folks from the governor’s office on down have called for my resignation. And I have given and done everything that my detractors have said.”

Morrissey pointed out that no member of the Virginia House of Delegates – dating back to the House of Burgesses --has ever been forced to resign for a misdemeanor conviction. He cited the case of Senator Ruffin in 1875 who was expelled for a was for a felony embezzlement conviction.

“There is no absolutely case precedent or Constitutional precedent to stepping down because of a misdemeanor conviction,” Morrissey said.

Morrissey’s resignation does not take effect until Jan. 13, the day of the special election. The General Assembly will convene Jan. 14.

“Morrissey is betting that his critics will not be able to organize enough people over the holidays in time for the special election,” CBS 6 political reporter Joe St. George said. “Even if Morrissey wins, the General Assembly could expel him the next day. But as he said that would be historic.”

Joe St. George questions Joe Morrissey at the General Assembly.

RELATED: Henrico sheriff says Joe Morrissey is ‘on a leash’

Morrissey was sentenced to serve six months in jail after he entered an Alford plea in Henrico Court on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Morrissey did not admit he broke the law, but did admit there was enough evidence to convict him.

The plea came days before Morrissey was scheduled to go on trial on charges of taking indecent liberties with a minor and possession of child pornography. The charges stemmed from allegations Morrissey was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old member of his legal staff.

During the news conference, Morrissey said that he was “doing fine” considering he was splitting his time between work and jail.

Morrissey said that he work 12 hours a day and then checks in at the jail, where he said he helps some of inmates with their cases for a couple hours before he goes to bed.

“I want to say that the men and the women down at Henrico County East Jail are imminently professional. They’re fair to all inmates and kudos to them,” Morrissey said.

This is a developing story.  Watch CBS 6 News starting at 5 p.m. and stay with WTVR.com 6 for the latest information.

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