Va. Gov. McDonnell: Star Scientific got 'no special benefits' - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Va. Gov. McDonnell: Star Scientific got 'no special benefits'

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Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell
WASHINGTON -

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) stated flatly Tuesday that Star Scientific got "no special benefits" during his term as governor.

The CEO of that Virginia-based company has lavished gifts on McDonnell family members, and, under current Virginia law, those gifts did not have to be disclosed.

It was a tough day for Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to have scheduled his "Ask the Governor" interview on WTOP radio. A front page headline in the Washington Post revealed the FBI is now looking into the relationship between McDonnell, his family members, and Jonnie Williams, Sr., the owner of a company called Star Scientific, which makes products that claim various health benefits.

Gov. McDonnell has gotten large political donations from Williams, and McDonnell's family members have accepted large gifts, including $15,000 for the wedding of one of McDonnell's daughters.

McDonnell told the radio hosts there was no “quid pro quo” for gifts to his family.

"I think it's important that the people of Virginia to know that nothing has been done with regard to my relationship with Mr. Williams or his company Star Scientific to give any kind of special benefits to him or his company," McDonnell explained during the on-air interview.

McDonnell was asked by reporters outside the radio station whether the family's undisclosed acceptance of gifts might give the appearance of impropriety.

"No," replied the governor. "I think that I reported the gifts as I believe the law required it to be disclosed. And that is gifts to the office holders are required to be disclosed, but no office holder (right now) is required to disclose gifts to a spouse, to children in the house, [or] to adult children.”

The Republican governor of Virginia, however, reiterated his recently stated support for having the legislature tighten gift disclosure requirements: "I certainly would support taking a look at whether or not gifts that are given to a spouse, or gifts given to children should also be disclosed."

In Virginia, governors can serve only one four-year term, and then must take a break from that office. Asked if the whole gift controversy might harm his future presidential aspirations, McDonnell said he is focused only on his current job as governor of the Commonwealth.


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