Photo: Eastern Virginia Medical School

An independent investigation into the source of the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School photo on Ralph Northam’s yearbook page was not able to determine who was in it or how it got there. Investigators say after interviewing more than 50 people, they could not discern how the picture was placed on Northam’s yearbook page — but they found no evidence it was placed there by mistake or as a prank. The school commissioned the law firm McGuire Woods to conduct the investigation after the photo became public February 1st. Ben Hatch was on the investigating team:

05-22 Northam Photo Bite-WEB

Governor Northam at first expressed regret for being in the photo, but a short time later, he said he was never before aware of it, he did not believe he was in it, and he had no idea how it ended up on his yearbook page.

The governor was touring a meat market in Lexington this morning when the report was released. He says he had not yet read the full report, but he expects to release a full statement later today.

Virginia politics was turned upside down in a matter of hours in early February after a conservative website posted a picture of Northam’s medical school yearbook page.  By midnight it appeared his entire political base was gone, with the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, other key Democratic groups and top allies calling on him to resign.

Northam reversed course at a news conference the next day, while revealing that he did in fact wear blackface once decades ago, to look like Michael Jackson for a dance contest. Defying calls to resign, he said he wanted to focus his remaining three years in office on addressing longstanding racial inequities.

While he was all but invisible in February and much of March, the governor is making routine public appearances again.

 

(Associated Press contributed to this story.)