Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell apologized today for bringing “embarrassment” to the state and said he had repaid loans given to him and his family by a CEO and political supporter.
McDonnell paid back over $120,000 given to him, his wife, and his sister. The loan to his wife was a personal loan, while two loans to McDonnell and his sister went to a business they owned.
The money came from Star Scientific (NASDAQ:STSI) CEO Jonnie Williams, who has been linked to other gifts to McDonnell and his family that critics have said were ethical breaches. Williams picked up the $15,000 catering tab for one of McDonnell’s daughter’s weddings, financed a $15,000 shopping trip for McDonnell’s wife at Bergdorf Goodman, and paid for a $6,500 Rolex watch that McDonnell received from his wife.
None of these gifts were mentioned in the governor’s apology. Federal and state authorities have been investigating both McDonnell and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who is running for governor against Terry McAuliffe, for receiving gifts from Williams.
McDonnell, who is prevented by state law from running for another term for governor, had been touted as a potential 2016 presidential candidate, but has seen much of the momentum for that run bleed away in the face of these recent controversies. His apology and refund of Williams’ loans is a small step towards regaining the trust needed to continue his political career.
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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