Bob McDonnell reflects on governing Virginia
(WJLA) - As governor Bob McDonnell prepares to welcome his successor, he looks back at a term filled with budget surpluses, low unemployment and the passage of an historic transportation bill.
He says he’ll be handing off a state that's in a little better shape than when he became governor.
McDonnell was considered a rising star within the Republican party, and was even under consideration to be Mitt Romney's running mate in 2012.
But everything changed last spring when news of the gift-giving scandal began breaking in Richmond.
The governor is now under federal investigation for receiving more than $150,000 in gifts and money from Star Scientific CEO Jonny Williams, including a Rolex watch, a New York shopping spree for his wife Maureen, and catering for his daughter's wedding.
McDonnell says all the gifts have been returned, and $120,000 in loans from Williams have been repaid.
"Like most people, I'm not perfect. I make mistakes,” he says. “I make mistakes and I'm generally smart enough to recognize those and say, 'ya know, I might've done things differently if I could do it again.’"
When asked if he’s concerned about a possible indictment, McDonnell replied, "those things are completely out of my hands. I welcome people reviewing the facts here. I have not done anything that ever abused my office with anybody whether they've been a donor or not a donor."
Professor Frank Shafroth, public policy expert at George Mason University, says many factors could determine whether authorities decide to pursue charges, like whether they can win the case, or even whether someone high up has it out for McDonnell.
"The justice department has invested so much time and work into this, it's been like a dog biting into the governor's heel,” Shafroth says. “I have to think they're likely to move forward.”