McDonnell: Gift Probe Won't Hurt His Leadership

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 11:40 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell insisted Tuesday that an FBI investigation into his relationship with a businessman who helped pay for his daughter's 2011 wedding will not interfere with his official duties.

The Republican leader also denied any wrongdoing in connection with gifts to his family from Star Scientific Chief Executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr., who reportedly picked up a $15,000 catering tab for the wedding of the governor's daughter Cailin.

According to The Washington Post, the catering gift and other possible gifts to the McDonnell family never were reported and now are being examined by the FBI.

In a radio interview Tuesday, McDonnell acknowledged the gift from Williams could raise questions, the Post reported. But, he insisted, there was nothing sinister about his family's ties to Williams and that he had never done any favors for the businessman in return for personal gifts or campaign contributions.

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“I’ve had a remarkable opportunity to serve these last 3½ years, and there’s nothing going on at all that impairs my ability to do a good job and to serve the people of Virginia,” McDonnell said on WTOP radio, the Post reported.

“I’ve been blessed to have a lot of friends,” he said. “And Mr. Williams and his wife, Celeste, have been family friends for four or five years. But I think it’s important for the people of Virginia to know nothing has been done with regard to my relationship with Mr. Williams or his company, Star Scientific, to give any kind of special benefits to him or his company.”

According to the Post, the FBI is conducting interviews about McDonnell's relationship with Williams, focusing on actions that may have been taken by the governor and his wife to promote Williams' company, which makes dietary supplements.

The governor has declined to comment on the FBI probe.

The Post noted that the Williams controversy also has drawn in Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the likely Republican nominee for governor this year. According to the Post, Cuccinelli failed to disclose stock holdings in Star Scientific and personal gifts from Williams.

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