Gov. Bob McDonnell says he has repaid $124,000 in loans from a wealthy Virginia businessman, but what remains unclear is whether the governor also plans to reimburse his benefactor for tens of thousands of dollars in gifts given to his family.
In a statement issued Tuesday, the Republican governor apologized for the “embarrassment,” he and some members of his family caused the state when he accepted loans from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie R. Williams. He said the loans had been paid back in full with interest, but no mention was made of gifts that the head of the nutritional supplement maker reportedly gave to the governor’s family.
“We’re standing on yesterday’s statement and actions,” he said Wednesday. “I really don’t have anything to add.”
Virginia politicians are permitted to accept unlimited gifts, as long as they are properly disclosed. The governor did not disclose the gifts to members his family, which include a $15,000 check to cover costs associated with Mr. McDonnell’s daughter Cailin’s wedding, a shopping trip for first lady Maureen McDonnell and a $6,500 Rolex inscribed with the words “71st governor of Virginia” that Mrs. McDonnell gave her husband. In public appearances, he has defiantly denied any wrongdoing, saying the gifts were to his family and not to himself and did not require disclosure.
But his apology Tuesday created an opportunity for Democrats to extend one of their main themes of attack on Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the Republican candidate for governor, who has also acknowledged receiving gifts from Mr. Williams.
The Democratic National Committee called on Mr. Cuccinelli to apologize for what a spokesman called his “unsavory” relationship with Mr. Williams. Mr. Cuccinelli has admitted to accepting a $3,000 vacation stay and a $1,500 Thanksgiving retreat and dinner at Mr. Williams‘ Smith Mountain Lake vacation home.
Some of the gifts to Mr. Cuccinelli went unreported until he updated financial disclosure statements from 2009 to 2012 to reflect them and stock ownership in Mr. Williams‘ company. An investigation by Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael N. Herring cleared him of any criminal wrongdoing.
But Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe’s campaign has gone further, suggesting that Mr. Cuccinelli should repay Mr. Williams for the gifts he received.
“Since the governor has begun the process of repaying Jonnie Williams, so should the attorney general,” McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin said, although the statement overlooks the fact that Mr. McDonnell has not committed to repaying gifts from Mr. Williams.
The Cuccinelli campaign fired back that — unlike Mr. McAuliffe, who has yet to release copies of his tax returns — they were committed to disclosure and used the opportunity to continue their line of attack on the Democrat as motivated solely by his own self-interest, bringing up two companies on which he cashed in before they failed.
The campaign also referenced ongoing questions about Mr. McAuliffe’s more-recent investment in Green Tech Automotive Inc., which has been dragged into a federal investigation into whether a prominent Obama administration appointee facilitated a visa application submitted by the company for a foreign national under a program that grants visas in exchange for high-dollar foreign investments.
“Terry McAuliffe should repay the millions of dollars he made off of GlobalCrossing and Telergy when thousands of employees lost their jobs while he profited — and we have yet to know the amount of money Terry McAuliffe made from his visa-for-sale scheme with GreenTech Automotive because he won’t release his tax returns,” Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix said.