McDonnell Under Fire Over Donor’s $15,000 ‘Wedding Gift’ to Daughter

Image: McDonnell Under Fire Over Donor’s $15,000 ‘Wedding Gift’ to Daughter Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Wednesday, 10 Apr 2013 12:53 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has come under fire for a $15,000 check from a major campaign donor to pay for the food at his daughter's wedding.

But the governor, who will leave office in January 2014, insisted the money was a gift to the young couple, and that he was not legally obligated to disclose it.

However, The Washington Post reports, McDonnell paid nearly $8,000 in deposits for the catering services and signed the caterer's contract. The paper says documents suggest the Republican governor was more involved in the finances for his daughter Cailin's wedding than he has acknowledged.

The combination of McDonnell’s deposit and the $15,000 gift resulted in an overpayment of more than $3,500 to the caterer. The refund went to the governor's wife, not to the newlyweds or back to the donor, the paper reported.

According to Virginia law, elected officials must report gifts of more that $50. While McDonnell maintains Cailin and her husband Chris Young paid for the 2011 wedding, documents showing his financial involvement could be key in determining whether he should have disclosed the check.

The state does not require that gifts to a public official's family members be disclosed, and McDonnell said he would be open to future changes regarding such disclosure.

“As you know, under the reporting laws, the gifts that come to me, I report,” he told reporters. “And I’ve been doing this for 22 years. Gifts that come to me, I regularly and diligently report those. . . . But gifts that come to other family members under the current law are not reportable.”

Democratic State Sen. Donald McEachin on Tuesday called for the state to revise its disclosure laws

The wedding gift came from Jonnie Williams Sr., chief executive of dietary supplement maker Star Scientific Inc. Shortly before the wedding, McDonnell's wife, Maureen went to Florida to promote the company's new anti-inflammatory supplement, which is made from a chemical that comes from tobacco.

The McDonnells also held a luncheon at the Executive Mansion in Richmond to launch the product.

Altogether, Williams and Star Scientific have given McDonnell and the more than $120,000 in publicly disclosed donations and gifts.

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