Bob McDonnell: “I am deeply sorry for the embarassment…I brought upon my beloved Virginia”


    Will wonders never cease? After months of revelations in the media about gifts/loans/etc. from Jonnie Williams to Gov. Bob McDonnell and his family, as well as other improprieties, McDonnell has finally fessed up AND paid up – at least in part (click on statement to “embiggen” and note that he’s only repaid LOANS, not GIFTS like the infamous Rolex or the Bergdorf Goodman shopping spree or the $15,000 wedding gift, etc. Also, WHO paid off those loans for him? I strongly doubt he had the money to do so. Lots of questions.). Of course, none of these actions would ever have been necessary if McDonnell hadn’t behaved in such a wildly unethical way in the first place (for the first 3+ years of his governorship, basically until he was caught).

    Meanwhile, Ken Cuccinelli has a LOT of questions of his own still to answer, for which he’s provided essentially nothing but lame excuses like “I forgot” or “I was ‘walled off’ by my staff” or whatever. The fact is, Cuccinelli was buddies with the same slimeball, Jonnie Williams, as Bob McDonnell was. In addition, as Terry McAuliffe pointed out in the debate Saturday – and as Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling paraphrased it yesterday – Cuccinelli “had a fiduciary duty to the people of Virginia to prosecute the tax claim against Star Scientific,” yet “at a time when [Cuccinelli] should have been taking them to court, they were taking [Cuccinelli] to New York City on their private jet.” How about some answers on that front?

    Finally, this entire incident – far from over, I’d point out, as legal proceedings and investigations continue – has demonstrated the utter inadequacy of Virginia’s current laws governing the ethical behavior of politicians, and the lobbyists who love (to bribe) them. That desperately needs to change…but will it? Only if Virginians make it clear that they DEMAND such changes and won’t take “no” for an answer. The call for ethics reform should not be a partisan issue, by the way, but something that all of us who care about good, honest government can agree on. Seems pretty basic, I’d say, for any of us who believe in the American system of government…

    UPDATE: See the statement from Progress Virginia, which asserts (correctly) that “If Bob McDonnell Can Pay Back Jonnie Williams, Ken Cuccinelli Should, Too” – on the “flip.”

    UPDATE #2: As Josh Israel of ThinkProgress points out, “McDonnell had long insisted his actions were entirely on the up-and-up, saying in April, ‘No one, during my administration, has been giving any special consideration because of their friendships, because of their donations to my campaigns, because of any gifts they’ve been giving – not Mr. Williams or his company or any other individual or any other company.'” In addition, McDonnell “long criticized media reports on his relationship with Williams as inaccurate.” Looks like they were VERY accurate, as it turns out. Apology forthcoming? Hmmmm.

    UPDATE #3: I’m sure this was a coincidence (yeah right), but McDonnell’s non-apology “apology” came shortly after this (“A government watchdog group called on the Internal Revenue Service Tuesday to investigate whether Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, first lady Maureen McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II had failed to report and pay taxes on gifts received from Star Scientific and its chief executive.”).

    If Bob McDonnell Can Pay Back Jonnie Williams, Ken Cuccinelli Should, Too.

    Returning gifts is a clear sign Cuccinelli is indebted to Virginia families, not well-heeled donors

    Richmond, VA – On the heel of Governor Bob McDonnell’s announcement that he has repaid over $120,000 in loans from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, ProgressVA called on Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to fully divest himself of Williams largess and repay Star Scientific and Williams for the value of gifts received. Cuccinelli has accepted over $18,000 in gifts from Williams and his company, including vacations and private plane flights. Cuccinelli’s entanglement with Williams has forced his recusal from two legal cases so far, impeding his ability to serve Virginia families as Attorney General.”

    “Governor McDonnell’s announcement is clearly an implicit acknowledgment that accepting tens of thousands of dollars from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams is ethically questionable,” said ProgressVA executive Director Anna Scholl. “Cuccinelli’s acceptance of over $18,000 in gifts from Star Scientific and Williams is a clear betrayal of the public trust, which was exacerbated by his failure to disclose these gifts and his multiple stock purchases in Star Scientific in a timely manner. If Ken Cuccinelli wishes to demonstrate that he truly is working for Virginia families and not well-heeled donors, he should immediately refund the value of these gifts to Williams and cut all ties.”

    • FWfromNOVA

      Nice of Bons folks to drop this bomb when they knew,it would be wildly overshadowed by the unveiling of the royal spawn. Ugh.  

    • This is clearly a coordinated PR offensive by Virginia Republicans, who obviously were freaking out about the impact of this scandal on the Cuckoo and his Clones ticket.

      RICHMOND, VA — Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), Majority Leader M. Kirkland “Kirk” Cox (R-Colonial Heights), Caucus Chairman Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax) and Majority Whip Jackson H. Miller (R-Manassas) released the following statement.

      “For over 30 years, Bob McDonnell has been a hard-working and dedicated public servant.  His service in the United States Army, as a prosecutor, as a member of the House of Delegates, and as Attorney General demonstrated his lifelong commitment to his country and the Commonwealth.  His time as Governor has been marked with a number of historic achievements in transportation, K-12 and higher education, government reform and much more.  He is known on both sides of the aisle as a man of character, integrity and good will.  Personally, Bob McDonnell has been more than a capable colleague and effective working partner, he has been a friend.

      “The Governor has apologized and taken responsibility for his actions. We appreciate his honesty and willingness to address this issue in a forthcoming manner. This is an important step toward regaining the trust and confidence of the people of Virginia.

      “The events of recent weeks have raised a number of questions about Virginia’s financial disclosure system. Our system relies on the principles of full disclosure and complete transparency. We believe those principles must be upheld by all elected officials.

      “As leaders in the General Assembly, we have already begun a thorough review of our disclosure system. We plan to seek strong reforms including new and rigorous reporting requirements on gifts to immediate family members, synchronizing and simplifying reporting periods, and instituting disclosure compliance training for elected officials. We look forward to addressing these issues during the rapidly approaching 2014 Session.”

    • from Communications Director Brian Coy:

      Now that Governor McDonnell has apologized for his role in the Star Scientific scandal, it’s time for Ken Cuccinelli to follow suit and admit how damaging his conflicts of interest have been to Virginia’s reputation for open and transparent government. Then he should drop his office’s exorbitantly expensive obstacles to Virginians’ Freedom of Information Act requests and give the people of this Commonwealth a full accounting of how deep this scandal runs.

    • See here:

      . Many in the blogosphere are praising McDonnell for the humility of his statement, and while that is appreciated, it is certainly not sufficient. Effectively admitting guilt by making massive payments to your sugar daddy benefactor while denying guilt in the same breath is not only suspicious, but it’s repulsive. Let’s get started with my concerns:

      What is the breakdown of this loan repayment from personal funds, family funds and MoBo Real Estate Partners?

      Would it be possible to see physical evidence of the payment, including evidence that the checks were cashed (or money received) by Jonnie Williams?

      How much is the Governor charging one of his hand-picked employees to rent his Henrico home? Did that money contribute to this loan repayment?

      Why didn’t the Governor reimburse Mr. Williams for the Rolex he was gifted, the catering charges of his children’s weddings or his wife’s shopping trips?

      Did the “Restoration Fund” created to alleviate the Governor’s legal debt effectively free up the money for this repayment? If so, when we will see that fund’s donors?

      Sorry that I must be the skeptic in this entire ordeal. Innocent people don’t cut massive checks when not necessary. Innocent people don’t hire crisis communications advisers and expand their legal team. McDonnell may, inevitably, be found “not guilty” when it comes to breaking the law. He is not, however, “not guilty” of abusing and destroying the public trust, and he still must resign.

    • “Since the Governor has begun the process of repaying Jonnie Williams, so should the Attorney General. The Attorney General should repay the $18,000 in gifts he received from the CEO of a company he was supposed to be pursuing for unpaid taxes,” said McAuliffe spokesperson Josh Schwerin. “Instead of taking Williams and his company to court, Cuccinelli was taking gifts and vacations and buying stock in the company.”

    • Washington, D.C. – Following Governor McDonnell’s apology today DNC spokesman Patrick Rodenbush released the following statement:

      “Ken Cuccinelli should follow the lead of Governor McDonnell and apologize to the voters of Virginia for his unsavory relationship with Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. By accepting gifts, family vacations, and turkey dinners from Mr. Williams, then failing to disclose these gifts and the stock he purchased in Star Scientific  in a timely manner, Ken Cuccinelli raised serious questions about whether or not voters can trust him to hold public office. Virginians deserve an open and accountable government and right now Cuccinelli’s record has failed them. It’s time for Cuccinelli to apologize for his role in the scandal and give voters a full account of his actions by releasing all the documents related to his relationship with Mr. Williams and Star Scientific.”

    • Jim B

      Count me as a cynic. If they have this wealth why did they need to borrow in the first place? Bet if the crap hadn’t hit the fan they were not going to repay the so called loans.

      No matter what, the gov will be remembered as Governor Ultrasound and maybe Governor Rolex.

    • LiberalVA

      The thing that gets me is the Thanksgiving dinner. I didn’t know that was something someone else could buy for you. That one just seems so out of touch and un-American