Va. Lawmaker to Testify to Grand Jury in McDonnell Case

Monday, 10 Jun 2013 10:52 AM

By Audrey Hudson

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A federal grand jury now apparently is investigating whether Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife helped promote a supporter's business in exchange for undisclosed gifts, The Washington Post reports.

The newspaper reported Sunday that GOP Virginia Delegate David Ramadan had been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury as part of a federal and state investigation into the Republican governor's relationship with Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the owner of a dietary supplement business, who reportedly paid the catering cost of $15,000 for the 2011 wedding of one of McDonnell's daughters.

Ramadan declined to disclose details of his subpoena, but confirmed to the Post that he had been called to testify in July about information pertaining to McDonnell and his wife Maureen.

According to the Post, the investigation also is focusing on other gifts that Williams, the chief executive of Star Scientific, may have given to Maureen McDonnell, who flew to Florida a few days after her daughter's wedding to help promote the company's dietary supplements.

The Post reported that Virginia's first lady arranged a luncheon at the governor's mansion "to mark the formal launch of the company's new non-FDA-approved pill, Anatabloc."

Investigators apparently are trying to determine if there was a quid-pro-quo for the 2011 wedding feast paid for by Williams.

The Post said it was unclear how Ramadan's testimony "might fit into the McDonnell investigation. The lawmaker, who is also a jeweler and international business consultant, told the Post that he has no connection to Williams or to Star Scientific. But, he said, he was a guest at the wedding of Cailin McDonnell and brought a gift for her.

Virginia law requires elected officials to disclose gifts valued at more than $50, but the rule reportedly does not extend to family members.

When asked if he had ever given gifts to the governor's wife, Ramadan said, "It's not something I'd like to comment on."

Ramadan was appointed by the governor to the George Mason University Board of Visitors in 2010, and the governor also contributed $40,000 to Ramadan's 2011 re-election campaign through a political action committee.

"I'm cooperating and look forward to continuing to cooperate 100 percent,” Ramadan said of his grand jury subpoena.

For his part, McDonnell continues to insist he was not required to report the wedding catering provided by Williams because it was gift for his daughter, the Post noted.

Last week, he told reporters, "I think what's important to note out of all of this that's been lost completely is that neither Star Scientific nor any other company gets any special consideration when it comes to economic development benefits or anything else.

"To my knowledge, in all the research we've done of [the] company, Star Scientific and Mr. Williams have not gotten any economic development grants or any appropriations or any appointments or anything else from our administration," he said.

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