The following statement was issued by Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms at the Virginia Beach City Council Informational Session beginning at 2 p.m. EST on Tuesday, November 18:
“I’d like to make a statement, if I may. I just want to take a minute to let you know face to face how seriously I take the recently allegations against me. The process of going through each individual vote has begun, but I need time to respond factually. In the meantime, please know I would never do anything to intentionally harm or embarrass the City of Virginia Beach or TowneBank. I have been a consistent protector of both and have always had the best interests of both at heart. We cannot let this issue stand in the way of taking care of important city business. We owe that to our citizens and I’d appreciate your understanding and I will get along with the agenda now.”
After his statement, councilman John Moss handed Mayor Sessoms a letter asking him to take a leave of absence until after the review.
Recently, Mayor Sessoms has been swallowed in a conflict-of-interest scandal, but this isn't the first time his banking job and his city duties have conflicted. When he was vice mayor in 2002, Wachovia Bank had an ethics rule that prevented its officers from holding public office, so he did not run again.
But when he moved to TowneBank, there was no rule like that. Since 2008, he's served both as a TowneBank president and mayor.
A newspaper investigation showed Sessoms, as mayor, has cast dozens of votes that helped TowneBank clients. The bank has put him on paid leave. Sessoms has also resigned from three TowneBank boards. However, in the days leading up to this afternoon's council meeting, he has refused to address the accusations. He has said repeatedly that he needs to do his own investigation before talking.
Colin Stolle, the city’s commonwealth’s attorney, said he will have to ask another city’s prosecutor to investigate. Stolle said he and his family have ties to the mayor and some of his office is funded through city council.
This is the mayor’s first scheduled meeting since the story broke.
Watch Live - Virginia Beach City Council Informational Session, below: