Two State Tax Officials Criticize Northam’s Blackface Press Conference Over Government Email

Two high-ranking officials in the Virginia Department of taxation exchanged messages on government email regarding Gov. Ralph Northam’s blackface yearbook photo and press conference, NTK Network has learned.

The emails, obtained via the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), showed Craig M. Burns, the commissioner of the Virginia Department of Taxation, exchanging email messages with John R. Layman, the director of revenue forecasting at the Department of Taxation.

“After seeing the networks, better order new photos for the 23rd floor,” Layman wrote, likely a reference to floor of the Department of Taxation upon which Burns, the commissioner, works. That message came just after Northam’s Saturday press conference in which he claimed the yearbook photo was not of him, but he did admit to wearing blackface in the past.

“Who is advising him?” Burns asked in response.

“Not someone that’s smart that’s for sure,” Layman replied about an hour after the conclusion of the press conference. “Man all the networks are still calling for his head. Plus black caucus put out statement while he was speaking. Ouch.”

Layman is referring to this statement, tweeted by the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus during Northam’s press conference:

Burns replied, “I think it’s more humiliating to try what he’s tried rather than just leave.”

“Yup,” Layman replied. “Boy that went so bad if you did not know him.”

After Burns sent a Richmond Times-Dispatch link that included Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring calling for Northam’s resignation, Layman sent a reply just before 6 p.m. Saturday asking if it was the “last supper” for Northam in the governor’s mansion.

Below are screenshots of the exchange between Burns and Layman:

VA Tax Officials' Emails

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Author: Jeff Bechdel

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