Virginia AG Cuccinelli Cleared in Tax Investigation

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Thursday, 18 Jul 2013 12:33 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli solicited and initially failed to disclose thousands of dollars in gifts from a prominent businessman but did not break any laws, the state prosecutor's office has concluded following an investigation.

The findings, released by the office of Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Herring, also said that while the GOP candidate for Virginia governor failed to disclose ownership of more than $10,000 of Star Scientific stock, there was no evidence he "in any way, promoted, supported, or assisted Star Scientific while he had a financial interest in the company," The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Thursday.

The findings will be a boost for the attorney general, who along with Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, has been the subject of ongoing state and federal probes about his relationship with Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams Sr.

"I appreciate the work of the Virginia State Police and Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Herring to provide an independent, impartial review of my financial disclosures. This review vindicates what I have said all along," Cuccinelli said in a statement.

"There was no legal requirement to refer my own filings to a commonwealth's attorney to review, but I did it because I wanted to be completely transparent with the public."

Cuccinelli requested the investigation after questions were raised about roughly $5,000 in gifts he had received from Williams, including a trip on Williams' private jet, a catered Thanksgiving dinner, and vacations at Williams' lake home, according to the Times-Dispatch.

The attorney general had initially omitted the gifts in his financial disclosures but later amended them. In Virginia, omitting gifts or holdings is not a violation of the law unless the public official knowingly failed to report what he received.

"Although one cannot help but question whether repeated omissions of gifts from Williams are coincidence or a pattern reflecting intent to conceal, the disclosure of several other gifts and benefits from Williams in his original statements suggests that the attorney general was not attempting to conceal the relationship," the investigation findings concluded.

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