Tuesday, July 23, 2013

 

Virginia Gov.Bob McDonnell apologizes,repays $120K loans

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Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says more than $120,000 in loan principal and interest that his wife and business received from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams has “been repaid in full.”

In a statement, the Republican apologized for causing the state embarrassment.


Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

In a statement on Tuesday, the Republican apologized for causing the state embarrassment and said he had not broken the law.

It is a watershed moment in a case that has dogged McDonnell, once thought to be a likely presidential contender in 2016.

“Being Governor of Virginia is the highest honor of my 37 years in public service,” McDonnell said. “I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment certain members of my family and I brought upon my beloved Virginia and her citizens. I want you to know that I broke no laws and that I am committed to regaining your sacred trust and confidence. I hope today’s action is another step toward that end.”

The statement identified repayment for three loans from Williams, plus interest: $52,278.17 for a loan to McDonnell’s wife, Maureen, in 2011 and $71,837.00 for two loans to the business McDonnell and his sister own in 2012.

McDonnell, the business and “his family” repaid the money, the statement said.
The Washington Post this year has chronicled loans from Williams to McDonnell’s family and business, raising questions about the propriety of their relationship with the dietary-supplement maker.

A report last week by former state Attorney General Tony Troy found that Williams did not financially benefit from meetings he and his company had with high-level state officials about one of his products.

State and federal investigations were ongoing this month, according to the Post.


The statement represents a new, contrite tack for McDonnell, who as recently as this month had more aggressively defended his conduct. “Thirty-seven years — no one’s raised questions about my integrity or my character,” he said in a local TV interview.

Unmentioned in the statement were gifts from Williams that have also drawn scrutiny, which reportedly included a $15,000 New York shopping trip for the governor’s wife; a $6,500 Rolex that McDonnell said his wife gave him; and thousands of dollars related to the McDonnells’ daughters’ weddings.

Rich Galen, the communications adviser for the private legal team aiding McDonnell on Star Scientific matters, would not say when or how the governor decided to take today’s steps. Nor would he comment on whether the governor plans to address the gifts.

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, assessed the statement as “a positive start.
“You gotta start somewhere when you’ve dug a hole as deep as the one he’s dug,” Sabato said.
Issues related to Star Scientific have also dogged Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican who is running for governor against Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Last week, “a state prosecutor found no evidence that [Cuccinelli] broke the law when he failed to disclose substantial stock holdings in Star Scientific and some gifts from the company’s chief executive,” The Washington Post reported.

In the candidates’ first debate on Saturday, McAuliffe attacked Cuccinelli over his relationship to Williams. “He was buying you $1,500 turkey dinners,” McAuliffe said. Cuccinelli defended himself by saying that eventually he had voluntarily disclosed the gifts. “Does anyone in this room think Terry McAuliffe would have ever done something like that?” he said. “Of course not.”
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