A Democratic candidate in a crucial race for the Virginia General Assembly denounced reports on Monday that she and her husband had performed live on a sexually explicit streaming site.
Susanna Gibson, a nurse practitioner running in her first election cycle, said in a statement that the leaks about the online activity were “an illegal invasion of my privacy designed to humiliate me and my family.”
The Washington Post and The Associated Press reported on Monday that tapes of live-streamed sexual activity had been recorded from a pornographic site and archived on another site. The New York Times has not independently verified the content of the videos. The Democratic Party of Virginia did not respond to a request for comment.
Ms. Gibson, 40, who appears on her campaign website in hospital scrubs as well as at home with her husband and two young children, is running for the House of Delegates in one of only a handful of competitive races that will determine control of the General Assembly. Republicans hold a slim majority in the House, and Democrats narrowly control the State Senate, but both chambers are up for grabs in November.
Ms. Gibson’s district, which is outside Richmond and primarily in Henrico County, is one of seven tossup seats in the 100-member House, according to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.
Releasing damaging information about candidates of the opposing party into the heat of a campaign is an age-old political practice, but the sensational nature of the disclosure of sex tapes — reportedly featuring Ms. Gibson and her husband, a lawyer — is highly unusual. Ms. Gibson called the release of the tapes “the worst gutter politics.” The Post said it learned of the material from a “Republican operative” who denied a connection to Ms. Gibson’s opponent, David Owen, or to other political groups in Virginia.
Daniel P. Watkins, a lawyer for Ms. Gibson, said it was unlawful in the state to record someone in a state of undress and distribute it to a third party without that person’s consent.
“It’s illegal and it’s disgusting to disseminate this kind of material, and we’re working closely with the F.B.I. and local prosecutors to bring the wrongdoers to justice,” Mr. Watkins said.
Ms. Gibson gave no indication she was considering dropping out of the race.
“It won’t intimidate me and it won’t silence me,” she said in her statement. “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.”
Virginia’s governor, Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, has raised record sums for his party in an effort to take full control of the Legislature, which, if successful, would cap a remarkable swing from two years ago when Democrats fully controlled state government.