McDonnell: I Made Mistake by Accepting Gifts

Thursday, 14 Nov 2013 12:17 PM

By Wanda Carruthers

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Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said Thursday that "the benefit of hindsight" might have caused him to "do some things a little bit differently" when he accepted more than $150,000 in gifts and loans from a single businessman while in office.

"I'm not perfect. I've made some mistakes. I acknowledged those. We returned the gifts, paid back loans," McDonnell told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Story continues below video.

Lenient campaign finance laws in Virginia allowed wealthy businessman Jonnie Williams Jr. to give the governor and his family the gifts legally. Following a public backlash, the Republican governor returned them.

When asked if he abused his position as governor, McDonnell responded, "Absolutely not. I love the people of Virginia. I love this office."

"I followed the law. I accepted gifts," he said. "In retrospect, I understand that it undermined the trust of the people in me."

Revelations of the scandal raised ethical questions when details surfaced earlier this year. Once seen as a rising star in the Republican Party, McDonnell saw his approval ratings drop, and the fallout tarnish him politically.

Some of the reports about the incident have been "inaccurate" or "one-sided," McDonnell said. He explained the need for Virginia to tighten its "lax" laws on gifts and financial contributions to elected officials, so that no one else would "go through this."

"We have some of the more lax laws in the country. We have pretty open finance laws, as well, where we don't have any limits on either gifts or financial contributions. We just have full disclosure," he said.

McDonnell, who leaves office in the New Year, said he will continue to work tirelessly "to serve the people," as he has done for the past 37 years.

"I get up every day, and do the best job I can for the state of Virginia," he said.

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