Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on Wednesday refused to say whether fellow Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell should have resigned amid his donor gift-giving scandal, saying "the governor knows things about that situation that the rest of us don’t."
In an interview with The Washington Post
, Cuccinelli – who’s running a heated race for governor against Democrat Terry McAuliffe – emphasized his own role as "part of this process" in the corruption investigation involving the term-limited McDonnell.
"I’ve had the conversation with him about the subject. The governor knows things about that situation that the rest of us don’t," Cuccinelli said, adding, "I began the state investigation. … I’ve been part of this process, so I think there is a respect for my own office that demands that I not push too hard in what are several official investigations going on right now."
Jonnie Williams, chief executive of Star Scientific, a dietary supplement company, has reportedly provided federal investigators with accounts of luxury gifts
and $145,000 given to McDonnell and his family since 2011.
The allegation not only has sparked a precipitous slide in approval ratings for the once-popular McDonnell and dashed any hope of his making a presidential bid in 2016, but has become an element in the heated race to replace him.
Noting a Washington Post poll
found 30 percent said they’d be less likely to vote for Cuccinelli because of his own ties to the corruption case, Cuccinelli defended "how I handled it," saying he'd returned $18,000 in gifts.
"When I discovered my disclosure mistakes – I discovered five over the course of four years … I’m the one who reported them," he said. "I also put out eight years of my tax returns. … I even turned it over to a Democratic prosecutor, who cleared me."
Cuccinelli said the gift scandal matters to voters but "doesn’t affect their lives going forward in the next four years. I would like to be talking about substantive policies … to make their lives better."
Cuccinelli also acknowledged he is polling behind his opponent with women voters, but attributed it to being "badly outspent" and a victim of "personal" attacks by McAuliffe. He said ads hitting his position on birth control show McAuliffe is "flat-out lying."
“I do not support government playing a role in adults’ choices about contraception,” he said. “And I'm committed to not doing that in the future."
"That’s his whole campaign," he said of McAuliffe's attack ads. "I’m the only candidate with a jobs program. … I’m the only one with a record of protecting women in Virginia, and it goes back more than 20 years."
He said he expects that as the race goes down to the wire, the gap between him and McAuliffe will close.
"The more people learn about both candidates, the better we do," he said. "There’s a lot of movement as people learn more … the fuller informed our Virginia voters, the better I’ll do and the more that gap will close."
The gap may already be tightening: a Newsmax/Zogby survey
Sept. 27-29 found McAuliffe and Cuccinelli in a virtual dead heat.
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