Tags: Va. | Gov. | McDonnell | Gifts

Va. Gov. McDonnell Under Scrutiny for More Gifts

Image: Va. Gov. McDonnell Under Scrutiny for More Gifts

Saturday, 22 Jun 2013 03:45 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Associates of Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, already under scrutiny over gifts to him and his family, are being questioned about previously undisclosed presents worth tens of thousands of dollars that a campaign donor reportedly gave to the governor's wife.

Sources close to the probe told The Washington Post that the questions are part of broad federal and state investigations over whether the Republican governor took action for anyone who gave to his family.

A federal grand jury is already investigating whether McDonnell and his wife helped promote a supporter's business in exchange for a $15,000 gift from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the owner of dietary supplement business Star Scientific Inc.

Williams reportedly paid the catering cost of $15,000 for the 2011 wedding of one of McDonnell's daughters.

According to Virginia law, elected officials can accept gifts of any value, but must disclose those worth more than $50. The rule does not extend to members of the governor's family.

McDonnell has disclosed $9,650 in personal gifts that include private plane rides and a vacation at a summer lake house from Williams and Star Scientific.

However, The Post reports, sources, speaking anonymously, said there are more undisclosed gifts, including several checks, that lead authorities to believe Williams and the McDonnells' connection was much wider than already revealed.

McDonnell said Star Scientific's company got no special benefits from his administration, but the gifts came while the McDonnells promoted the new product.

Three days before her daughter's wedding in 2011, first lady Maureen McDonnell flew to Florida, where she promoted a dietary supplement that Star Scientific was introducing to doctors and investors.

Three months later, the McDonnells allowed Star Scientific to use the 200-year-old Executive Mansion for an event to mark the launch of Anatabloc, which is an anti-inflammatory, non-FDA approved pill.

Tucker Martin, a spokesman for the governor, added that neither Williams nor Star Scientific received any targeted tax incentives or other benefits from McDonnell.

Meanwhile, Republican State Del. David I. Ramadan and socialite Patricia Kluge have both been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury next month.

Ramadan, a jeweler, has declined comment about giving gifts to the first lady. Meanwhile, Kluge, who has given largely to Democrats in the past, donated $10,000 to McDonnell's Inaugural Committee.

When she declared bankruptcy and had to sell her winery, Secretary of Agriculture Todd Haymore worked to identify potential buyers. Martin said it was in the best interest of the state to find a buyer, and Kluge's friendship had nothing to do with the sale.

Donald Trump's son Eric, who oversaw the Trump Organization's purchase of the winery, said that while the McDonnells supported the takeover, they had no personal role in the sale. Neither Trump or his father have been subpoenaed to testify.

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