- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 10, 2013

In an abrupt about-face, Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II announced Tuesday that he’s donating $18,000 to charity — the cash value of gifts he’s received from the chief of a nutritional supplement company whose gifts and loans to the state’s first family have prompted state and federal investigations.

In a video message released Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Cuccinelli announced he’s written a check for more than $18,000 to a Richmond-based charity.

For months, Democrats have pushed Mr. Cuccinelli to find some way to repay the cash equivalent of the gifts from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie R. Williams, which included a trip to a vacation home and a Thanksgiving dinner.

Mr. Cuccinelli, who initially failed to disclose $4,500 of the gifts, as well as stock holdings in the company, said he wrote the check to resolve any questions surrounding the company.

“I made the decision to send the check because it is the right thing to do, plain and simple,” he said. “This is something that I would have liked to have done sooner, but like most Virginians, writing a check for more than $18,000 is not a simple matter for my family and me. It’s taken a while to get our funds together. For those who’ve been disappointed in this situation or how I’ve handled it, I apologize. It’s been a humbling set of lessons for me.”

Last month, Mr. Cuccinelli said he might just write a check for repayment, but that it wasn’t something he and his family were in a position to do.

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced last month that he and his family have returned all “tangible” gifts from Mr. Williams, which include $15,000 for catering at a daughter’s wedding, a $10,000 engagement present for another, and an engraved $6,500 Rolex watch Mrs. McDonnell said Mr. Williams bought for her to give to her husband.

The governor has also repaid more than $120,000 in loans Mr. Williams gave to Mrs. McDonnell and a real estate corporation owned by Mr. McDonnell and his sister. Prosecutors currently are weighing whether to bring criminal charges in that case, but Mr. McDonnell said last month that he will not be leaving office early.

Mr. Cuccinelli said he’s going to focus the remaining weeks of his campaign against Democrat Terry McAuliffe on what he’s done for the people of Virginia and what he intends to do, but a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia said the Tuesday announcement was too little and too late.

“This late, clearly political act can’t undo his unethical pattern of putting his own financial interests ahead of Virginia families,” said DPVA spokesman Brian Coy.