Bob McDonnell to return all gifts to Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams
Updated: July 30, 2013 - 06:42 pm
RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WJLA) - Gov. Bob McDonnell says he will return remaining gifts to himself and his family from a major campaign donor and businessman who lavished Virginia's first family with tens of thousands of dollars in gifts for years.
McDonnell said Tuesday on his monthly radio call-in show on Washington's WTOP radio that he has repaid nearly $125,000 in personal and business loans from Star Scientific chief executive Jonnie Williams last week. The loans were reportedly repaid with personal assets, loans, and help from family members.
He took the next step by saying he will give back all of the gifts given to him by Williams --- including a $6,500 Rolex. He also said that his daughter Jeanine has returned a $10,000 engagement gift. McDonnell's interview was one filled with contrition and a repeated desire to restore trust with the people of Virginia:
"I am deeply sorry ...I take full responsibility for all my actions. I am embarrassed with some of the decisions that have been made by me or my family that have undermined that trust."
He continued defending the gifts, however, citing the letter of Virginia's ethics law. He said he didn't disclose the gifts because it wasn't legally required. But after 45 minutes of talking scandal, McDonnell had had enough of the questions:
"I have been as candid and honest as I can answering the questions you've asked, and I don't think I have much more I can say... Giving back the gifts isn't gonna get rid of this investigation."
POLITICO’s James Hohmann says federal and state investigators may not be swayed by McDonnell’s words and actions, but some Virginians might: "It will probably help with the people who want to believe in the governor."
But there are some who think its too little, too late -- the damage has already been done.
The announcement comes a day after the governor's personal legal team is asking the Commonwealth for tens of thousands of dollars to defend the governor and his staff, according to the Washington Post.
Virginia's maligned governor and members of his staff are being investigated in connection to an embezzlement case against Todd Schneider, the former executive chef who is facing four felony counts of the crime.
In total, the Post reports that McDonnell's lawyers have billed Virginia about $54,000 for more than a month of defense work, with $24,000 of that for the governor himself.
Schneider, who once served as a chef at the executive mansion, is accused of stealing food from the mansion's kitchen. He claims he was ordered to take the items as compensation for catering private events.