Home Virginia Politics Sen. Herring Calls for Independent Investigation by DOJ into Cuccinelli, McDonnell Scandal

Sen. Herring Calls for Independent Investigation by DOJ into Cuccinelli, McDonnell Scandal

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I just got off a conference call with Senator Mark Herring, Democratic candidate for Attorney General of Virginia, in which he discussed the ongoing scandal involving Governor Bob McDonnell, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and Star Scientific. Also, check out Sen. Herring’s letter to Jack Smith (Chief, Public Integrity Section, United States Department of Justice), requesting that his office “conduct an investigation into the relationship between Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and the company Star Scientific and its Chief Executive Officer Jonnie R. Williams Sr.”

On the call, Sen. Herring further explained his reasoning behind his call for a “fair and independent” investigation of the Star Scientific matter. This whole situation, in Sen. Herring’s view, raises “very serious and troubling concerns” on this “clear and obvious conflict of interest.” Only when there was a great deal of media scrutiny did Cuccinelli belatedly recuse himself. Meanwhile, “additional revelations” and “serious allegations” have come out, raising more questions about “lavish gifts” to the governor and his family (also not reported), “conflicts of interest with the Attorney General, at a time when this company that they have these relationships and dealings with has important business before the state.”

More broadly, in Sen. Herring’s view, public officials shouldn’t be accepting gifts of this order and magnitude, especially when they come from a company with business in front of the state. That’s why, in Herring’s view, ethics rules need to be reformed and strengthened, including an outright prohibition on gifts of this sort. Also, this isn’t an isolated case: these types of ethical problems are happening more and more frequently in Virginia, underscoring the need for strengthening ethics laws.

Anyway, check out Sen. Herring’s letter to the US Department of Justice on the “flip.” Also, if you want to help elect Sen. Herring as Virginia’s next Attorney General, please click here to get involved. Thanks!

April 11, 2013

Jack Smith

Chief, Public Integrity Section

United States Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Mr. Smith,

In order to restore public trust and assure the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia that their best interests are being represented, I write to ask you and your office to conduct an investigation into the relationship between Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and the company Star Scientific and its Chief Executive Officer Jonnie R. Williams Sr.

Serious questions have been raised by a sizeable payment, some $15,000, made by Mr. Williams to pay for the costs of catering at Governor McConnell’s daughter’s wedding, a “gift” which was not reported by the Governor, which could be a violation of Virginia law. Moreover, Governor McDonnell and his family have taken actions on behalf of Mr. Williams’s company, raising the question of a quid pro quo being involved. As more revelations of his direct involvement have become known, the Governor’s explanation of these events has changed. For instance, a Washington Post story from April 9, 2013 shows Governor McDonnell may have had prior knowledge and involvement in the transaction.

Furthermore, it has come to light that Mr. Cuccinelli failed to disclose that he owns stock in Star Scientific and has accepted gifts from Mr. Williams. Until recent press scrutiny, Mr. Cuccinelli had refused to recuse himself in a case involving the Commonwealth of Virginia against Star Scientific over a $700,000 tax assessment. Mr. Cuccinelli’s claims that he was unaware he held as much as $10,000 in shares in Star Scientific also raises questions.

Due to the high positions these individuals hold in Virginia State Government, I am asking for an outside and independent investigation so the public can be assured the investigation is free of political influence and focused on the sole purpose of determining whether any laws have been broken or if public policy has been unduly influenced as a result of the relationship between these public officials and this corporation.

I appreciate your timely response on this matter.

Sincerely,

Mark Herring

  • HERRING CALLS FOR FEDERAL INVESTIGATION INTO FINANCIAL DEALINGS BETWEEN MCDONNELL, CUCCINELLI AND STAR SCIENTIFIC

    Proposes Reforming Gifts and Disclosure Laws

    Leesburg – Democratic candidate for Attorney General State Senator Mark Herring (Loudoun & Fairfax) is calling for a federal investigation into the relationship between Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and the company Star Scientific and its Chief Executive Officer Jonnie R. Williams Sr.

    “Over the last several days, Virginians have read about the extravagant gifts given to Governor McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli by Chief Executive Officer Jonnie Williams and his company Star Scientific, which has business before the state. The gifts and the cozy relationship between these individuals and this company have raised concerns in Virginians’ minds about what these gifts resulted in. In order to restore the public trust, I am calling for an outside and independent investigation to determine if any legal or ethical lines have been crossed, or if public policy has been influenced in any way,” Herring said.

    Over the last week, doubts and concerns have been raised over a lavish gift made by Mr. Williams to pay for wedding costs for Governor McDonnell’s daughter, a gift with a $15,000 price tag. Furthermore, Ken Cuccinelli failed to disclose that he has accepted gifts from Mr. Williams, and that he also owns $10,000 in stock shares in Star Scientific. Until recent press scrutiny, Ken Cuccinelli had refused to recuse himself in a case involving the Commonwealth of Virginia against Star Scientific over a $700,000 tax assessment.

    “Accepting gifts from a company that has business before the state raises serious ethical questions and concerns, and the people of Virginia deserve a fair and independent investigation to determine the facts,” Herring added.

    Herring sent a letter to the Public Integrity Section of the United States Department of Justice asking for an outside investigation of this matter.

    Herring additionally proposed capping gifts given to elected officials and adding gifts given to immediate family members – including spouses, children and parents – to the list of disclosures a candidate or elected official is required to make annually.

    “I think the Governor or the Governor’s family receiving an unreported gift of $15,000 from a company with business before the state clearly should be illegal,” Herring said. “Such a large personal gift is legal under current law and that needs to be changed. In this instance, I think the Governor should have said thanks but no thanks, and the ethical laws and standards clearly need to be toughened.”

    A copy of the letter can be found at: http://www.HerringForAG.com/HerringLetter

  • pontoon

    Is Herring running for AG or Governor?  He seems to be running a lot of interference for Terry McAuliffe against Cuccinelli.  I agree the issue is one an AG would be concerned with if he were in office, but Herring seems to be calling out Cuccinelli alot…does it help Herring’s campaign by using these issues to show how different he will be from our current AG, or in the end, does it really help McAuliffe win the Governor’s race?

  • Virginia_Dem

    I’m glad someone is finally taking it to these guys. This is good.