Dogged for months with questions about lavish gifts and loans from a Virginia businessman, Governor Bob McDonnell now says he has paid back more than $124,000 to Star Scientific CEO Jonnie R. Williams, Sr.
The governor released a statement through the public relations firm he has hired to represent him saying he has repaid a $52,000 loan to his wife, Maureen, and more than $71,000 for two additional loans that were made to the real estate company he owns with his sister.
McDonnell's statement says in part, "I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment certain members of my family and I have brought upon my beloved Virginia and her citizens. I want you to know that I broke no laws and that I am committed to regaining your sacred trust and confidence."
State Sen. Chap Petersen of Fairfax tells FOX 5 the governor's actions are a significant first step. Petersen has been outspoken, calling for the governor's resignation if he didn't account for the gifts and loans.
Washington Post Columnist Robert McCartney sees McDonnell's moves as a complete about-face from earlier denials of any wrongdoing and emphasizing that Virginia law did not require him to disclose gifts made to family members.
He says it is too early to say if McDonnell can make a comeback that might allow him to run for president in the future.
McCartney points out that Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer have both returned to public life after terrible sex scandals. He says both are running for office, and polls show them doing okay. So anything is possible.
Statement of Governor Robert McDonnell:
"Being Governor of Virginia is the highest honor of my 37 years in public service. I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment certain members of my family and I brought upon my beloved Virginia and her citizens. I want you to know that I broke no laws and that I am committed to regaining your sacred trust and confidence. I hope today's action is another step toward that end. Virginia has never been stronger and I plan to focus on creating even more jobs and facilitating greater opportunity during the last five months of my term as your Governor. Our work together on education, transportation, pension reform, voting rights, and economic expansion has produced great results for Virginia," said Governor McDonnell.
"The repayments include $52,278.17 for a loan made to Mrs. McDonnell in 2011 and $71,837.00 for two additional loans made to the small real estate business owned jointly by the Governor and his sister in 2012. The payments include both principal and interest.
"All monies used for repayment have come from the Governor, the family business itself, or his family."
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