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A Virginia state senator has said he was oblivious to the fact that his fraternity held a “slave auction” fundraiser while he was its president, but new evidence obtained by The Daily Wire casts doubt on his claim.
When Democrat legislator Monty Mason was president of his Pi Lambda Phi fraternity at College of William and Mary in 1989, the college yearbook shows the fraternity held a “slave auction.” When pressed on the event by the school newspaper in 2019, Mason said nobody called it a “slave auction” and he had “no idea” who was responsible for the error in the yearbook.
“We called it a pledge auction to raise money for our fraternity,” Mason told William and Mary’s student newspaper in an email back in 2019 when the story first broke. “I have no idea who is responsible for using other terminology to describe it in the Colonial Echo. I washed cars to fulfill my fundraising obligation.”
Mason’s ignorance, however, seems to be contradicted by a newly unearthed flier put out by the fraternity obtained by The Daily Wire.
The flier for the March 31, 1989, event shows promotion of the fraternity’s “long awaited slave auction” featuring an illustration of a man, with his hands and feet shackled to a block. According to the flier, the event was set to feature an “abundance of fine cheeses and the opportunity to purchase the services of upright and wholesome young men.”
The flier appears to show that the fundraiser was widely referred to as a “slave auction,” contrary to what Mason suggested to his alma mater’s newspaper back in 2019. During the fundraiser, members of the fraternity would be “auctioned off” for an hour of labor.
Mason did not respond to requests for comment from The Daily Wire.
This isn’t the first time Virginia Democrats have faced criticism over racially-charged yearbook photos from the 1980s. In 2019, former Virginia Governor Ralph Northam faced calls for his resignation after pictures in his 1984 medical school yearbook placed him in a racist picture of a man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan outfit. Northam admitted he was in the picture, but would not say which costumed individual was him. Northam was able to sidestep the firestorm and finish out his term.
Mason, who worked in real estate and business before his government career and escaped unscathed from widespread backlash, has thus far also been able to sidestep criticism of his fraternity’s slave event, largely due to his 2019 denial that the event even happened. Others have been less successful — an entire high school football team in Northern California was forced to forfeit its entire 2022 season after a prank video of the students “auctioning” off three black students emerged. And former “Bachelor” host Chris Harrison was forced by ABC to leave the show after he was blasted for defending a contestant on the show after it was reported that she went to an antebellum-themed party back in 2018.
Mason is up for re-election this year in a race that could prove pivotal for control of the Virginia Senate, where Democrats currently have a four-seat advantage. He is running in the 24th Senate district against Republican retired Sheriff Danny Diggs in a race that is slated to be competitive. Diggs has raised about $1.3 million while Mason, who has been a senator since 2016, has raked in just over $2 million.
During a debate between the two on Tuesday, Mason said he would govern as a “moderate” while Diggs said he would “uphold” conservative values.
Early voting in Virginia starts on Friday and will determine control of both the state House and state Senate. Republicans currently hold a narrow lead in the House, and the elections will determine whether Virginia Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin will be able to pursue conservative legislative priorities in his final two years in office.