- Unbeliebable: White House turns Bieber petition response into immigration screed
- Obama signs law denying Iran ambassador’s visa, but says law is ‘advisory’
- Mich. judge to laughing convicted killer: ‘I hope you die in prison’
- Man charged in Kansas City-area highway shootings
- Keystone XL pipeline still on hold after State Dept. decision
- Fla. man charged with killing 16-month-old son to play Xbox undisturbed
- Drones from the deep: Pentagon develops ocean-floor attack robots
- Michigan mayor slaps back atheists’ try to erect ‘reason station’ at city hall
- PHILLIPS: Where is the conservative establishment?
- 7.5-magnitude earthquake shakes southern Mexico
Kenneth Cuccinelli tries to shake scandal in Virginia with $18,000 donation
In an abrupt about-face, Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II announced Tuesday he’s donating $18,000 to charity as reimbursement for gifts he received from a wealthy businessman — a gamble he hopes will put behind him a scandal that has weighed on his gubernatorial campaign.
For months, Democrats have dogged Mr. Cuccinelli on the issue, lumping him into a political morass that has ensnared Gov. Bob McDonnell and Virginia’s first family in state and federal investigations.
Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of law, called the move a positive development but also an acknowledgment that the Republican’s campaign is struggling to sustain momentum as the race heads into its stretch run. Democrat Terry McAuliffe leads Mr. Cuccinelli by 7.7 points in the latest RealClearPolitics average of recent poll results.
“I don’t think it can hurt, but I’m not sure how much it will help,” Mr. Tobias said. “He so vehemently rejected that idea when it was first raised and ever since, so why is he doing it now?”
Mr. Cuccinelli has repeatedly pointed to an independent investigation exonerating him of wrongdoing for accepting gifts from Jonnie R. Williams, CEO of the nutritional supplement company Star Scientific Inc. The attorney general, who initially failed to disclose $4,500 of the gifts as well as stock holdings in Mr. Williams‘ company, even recently dismissed the idea of being able to repay the cash equivalent of the gifts.
“There are some bells you can’t unring,” he said in July, referring to time he spent at Mr. Williams‘ vacation home and a Thanksgiving dinner he attended. In August, he explained that he and his family were simply not in a position to just write a check.
But on Tuesday, the married father of seven children said in a video address to supporters posted on YouTube that he made the decision to donate the money to a Richmond-based Christian charity because it was the “right thing to do, plain and simple.”
“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,” he said. “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.”
While the gesture could help Mr. Cuccinelli deflect further questions about the scandal, the political risk is that he could also be perceived as having admitted wrongdoing.
“By the very act of giving it back, you almost say the money is tainted,” said Shaun Kenney, a longtime conservative activist in the state.
Democrats have harped on Mr. Cuccinelli, buying ads on a roadside billboard and creating a mocking website, since Mr. McDonnell announced last month that he and his family were returning all “tangible” gifts from Mr. Williams. The gifts to the governor included $15,000 for catering at one daughter’s wedding, a $10,000 engagement present for another, and an engraved $6,500 Rolex watch first lady Maureen McDonnell said Mr. Williams bought for her to give to her husband.
Mr. McDonnell has also repaid more than $120,000 in loans Mr. Williams gave to Mrs. McDonnell and a real estate corporation owned by the governor and his sister. Prosecutors currently are weighing whether to bring criminal charges related to any possible quid pro quo.
But the developments have largely sidelined Mr. McDonnell during the high-profile campaign and hampered the GOP’s ability to raise ethical issues against Mr. McAuliffe, a self-proclaimed “hustler” perhaps best known as the wheeling and dealing chief moneyman for President Clinton.
Republicans have tried to exploit the Democrat’s ties to an electric car company he founded that is currently under federal investigation, though Mr. McAuliffe says he has not contacted by authorities and is not a subject of the probe.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Sherfinski covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Supreme Court weighs appeal to concealed-carry gun laws
- Michael Bloomberg charts $50M challenge to NRA: 'Got to make them afraid'
- McAuliffe's PAC off to fast start, with $254,000 raised in two weeks
- Virginia Republican Bob Marshall stands by remarks that raise eyebrows
- Obama urged to enforce ban on importing military-style firearms
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- Harry Reid blasts Bundy ranch supporters as 'domestic terrorists'
- Inside China: Marine's comment on islands draws sharp Chinese response
- Jews being told to register in Ukraine: John Kerry
- EDITORIAL: Mark Warner running scared?
- EDITORIAL: More Lerner smoking-gun emails at IRS
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.