Scrutiny continues over McDonnell's ties with donor
July 3rd, 2013
12:25 PM ET
10 months ago

Scrutiny continues over McDonnell's ties with donor

(CNN) – Gov. Bob McDonnell, already under fire for reported ethics violations, apparently took a flight to the Final Four basketball tournament in April 2011 that was sponsored by one of his political donors, according to the Virginia-Pilot.

The newspaper reports that "people familiar with the trip" now say Jonnie Williams Sr., who heads the health supplement company Star Scientific Inc., covered McDonnell's travel.

The FBI has been investigating McDonnell's relationship with Williams for gifts he provided to the governor, including catering for his daughter's wedding. The federal agency was also determining whether McDonnell, elected in 2009, had taken any government actions that would have benefited Williams' company.

The Washington Post reported last week that Williams had also purchased a Rolex watch for McDonnell.

As for the Final Four allegations, McDonnell's spokesman, Tucker Martin, pointed out to the Virginia-Pilot that the trip was logged by the governor's political action committee, Opportunity Virginia. Around the same time, Star Scientific also made a contribution of $22,371 to the PAC on April 7.

While the latest claim involves air travel to Houston for McDonnell and his family, the Virginia-Pilot reports there's no indication that Williams paid for any other costs associated with the trip.

Virginia Commonwealth University provided five tickets and five hospitality passes, valued at $280 and $100 each, a university official told the Virginia-Pilot.

State Sen. J. Chapman "Chap" Petersen, D-Fairfax, Tuesday publicly urged the governor to "come clean" about gifts from Williams, saying he should give the gifts back or resign his office, according to the newspaper.

Meanwhile, on another front, The Washington Post reported this week that McDonnell's former chef, Todd Schneider, said McDonnell directed state employees to work at private and political events. Schneider made the allegations in court documents as he faces charges that he embezzled food from the governor's mansion when he served as executive chef, according to the Post.

Martin, the spokesman for McDonnell, told the Post that the allegations were "claims made by an individual facing four felony charges of embezzlement."

"Assertions regarding this matter should be properly considered in a court of law," he said.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Wednesday that high-profile Washington lawyer Emmet T. Flood was at the Executive Mansion Tuesday to speak with McDonnell, according to administration officials. Flood represented former President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings. He also worked in the President George W. Bush administration.

McDonnell, who had been considered a potential 2016 presidential contender, acknowledged in late April there was much he wanted to say about the allegations but couldn't due to the ongoing FBI investigation. McDonnell said there was "nothing going on at all at this time that impairs my ability to do a good job and serve the people of Virginia."

"I've been blessed to have a lot of friends," McDonnell continued on WTOP radio. "Mr. Williams and his wife Celeste have been family friends for four or five years. I think it's important the people of Virginia know that nothing has been done with regard to my relationship to Mr. Williams or his company Star Scientific, to give any kind of special benefits to him or his company, or frankly any other person or any other company."


Filed under: Bob McDonnell • Virginia
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Data Driven

    Normally, people don't care about a dash of corruption, like sugar over cornflakes, as long as it's just a respectable, healthy little dash. Rubbing it in people's faces, though, irritates. McDonnell was probably the front-runner on the GOP side for 2016, but now I don't think he'd survive the GOPher primary if he actually ran.

    I love the bit about the McDonnell's chef embezzling FOOD. It's like the nursery rhyme about that dude who stole the tarts.

    July 3, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    $6,500 Roley? Go ahead with ya' bad self Big Willy!

    July 3, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  3. surf 4 sun

    Welcome. Please meet the new poster child for all that is wrong with the Republican Party.

    July 3, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Gov. McCorrupt! This sounds like pay to play. Ferraris, Rolex, paid trips, paid weddings. Is there anything the McCorrupt's come out of pocket for?

    July 3, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  5. Gurgyl

    -–all thieves, thus thus the story ended. The end.

    July 3, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  6. Pete

    Hey Bob can I come by and sneak a couple of donuts for my coffee,don't say anything to anybody right,just hilarious!!Turn in your key to the governors mansion Bob your days as Virginias head dude are over..Maybe we'll get Issa to create a committe to see if you're guilty ,just a thought like the rest of republicans other failed efforts!!McConnells next and just like dominoes they'll all fall in line after midterms,just wait and see ignorents!!

    July 3, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. Malory Archer

    Aaaaannnnnnndddd the reichwing attempt to deflect the issue with whining and teeth-gnashing while blaming the "librul" media and decrying all things Obama will begin in 3... 2... 1...

    July 3, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. saywhat

    In August of 2012, GOP lawmakers 20 of them were exposed cavorting,wild partying, skinny dipping in Israel at the expense of one of Israeli lobbies. Where was the outcry?
    or being wined and dined by foreign lobbies is o.k for our lawmakers who are supposed to serve Americans??

    July 3, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Remember, folks in VA. "Bad" Bob McDonnell's closest political ally is currently running for Governor.

    July 3, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  10. jinx9to88

    First Michelle Bachman being investigated for campaign issues now McDonnell on gifts from lobbyists, say it isnt so. This is the pride of the tea party and GOP? LMAO. Where is all the tea party bloggers at on this? Probably trying to get Issa head from being stuck up his A hole since all the witch hunts he has been on.

    July 3, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  11. MioMi

    "Mr. Williams and his wife Celeste have been family friends for four or five years" Oh, that clears it all up. They have been family friends for 4 or 5 years. Just so happends thats the same time frame for you being a governor.

    July 3, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  12. Steveo

    If he screwed up, he needs to pay up. Left/right or otherwise, it doesn't matter. Don't rejoice too hard, Dems as your house needs to be cleanup as well. The thing about poltics is we seem to have x-ray vision when it comes to spotting the wrongs on the other side but we are as blind as a pocket mole when it comes to spotting the wrongs on "our" side. Yay poltics!

    July 3, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  13. Wake up People!

    The party of family values strikes again......

    Isn't this Governor Vaginal Probe???

    July 3, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. Malory Archer

    Steveo

    If he screwed up, he needs to pay up. Left/right or otherwise, it doesn't matter. Don't rejoice too hard, Dems as your house needs to be cleanup as well. The thing about poltics is we seem to have x-ray vision when it comes to spotting the wrongs on the other side but we are as blind as a pocket mole when it comes to spotting the wrongs on "our" side. Yay poltics!

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, except Dems are run out of town on a rail by their party for minor infractions, and sent to prison for more serious offenses while rethugs are feted by their party and given a free pass as they whine that the Dems do it too.

    July 3, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  15. Steveo

    Wake up People!

    The party of family values strikes again......

    Isn't this Governor Vaginal Probe???
    ---------
    Party nothing. It is THIS guy. Unless you submit YOUR party tried to sell Obama's Senate seat. I always thought it was ONE guy! Did YOUR party put cash in asfreezer and lie to the FBI? I always thought it was William Jefferson and NOT an entire party! Maybe I'm wrong! Maybe an entire party is guilty

    July 3, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  16. chilly g

    this guy is corrupt and is almost done in politics and running for office.

    July 3, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  17. Vince

    How moral values.

    July 3, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. jboh

    More TEA/GOP moral values.

    July 3, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  19. Donkey Party

    Steveo – The Democrats never claimed to be the "family values" party. As usual, the point sailed right over your head. It seems in your perpetual rush to point out the shortcomings of the left, you always overlook those on the right, while trying to take on an air of neutrality, when you're clearly beholden to the right.

    July 3, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. Michael Benjamin

    Nothing is preventing McDonnell from doing his job in the crooked manner which it has always been performed.

    July 3, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    What is so bad about this case is that he was *caught* doing all of this before, and warned to put an end to it. But, he's continued robbing the taxpayers as if nothing ever happened. He deserves the fullest prison terms, with no parole.

    July 3, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. Tony

    He love to vaginal probe women what about a probe of his corrupt self

    July 3, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Donkey Party

    Steveo – The Democrats never claimed to be the "family values" party. As usual, the point sailed right over your head. It seems in your perpetual rush to point out the shortcomings of the left, you always overlook those on the right, while trying to take on an air of neutrality, when you're clearly beholden to the right.
    -----------------------
    Neo-Libertarian, to be more exact. What's that, you say? It's the extreme makeover version of libertarianism created by Ron Paul, and now being perpetuated by his son, Rand. Steveo is a Paulite, like so many others around here. Most all of the neo-cons packed their bags and left this place after Romney lost. I guess they tired of changing names.

    July 3, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    "I want everyone to abide by my personal,and non-religious beliefs, so I can feel superior and judge those who don't. I want to use a liberal, George Soros funded Gov't that I love and want Big Government to control those that pay taxes – to shove my athiest beliefs down other’s throats and FORCE them to make medical decisions based on my personal beliefs. Also, I won't pay a DIME or take any of my personal TIME to raise or support MY children, which I conceived due to a total lack of morals, and birth control. I will then heap scorn upon the innocent citizens, because I am irresponsible. I will also give MEN any s*x they want, because I'm a free liberal woman, who can open her legs any time I wish, without repercussions.

    Works both ways, Honey. Get off of your liberal, high horse and get some morals and be responsible."

    Yeah, we're gonna tie you down and force you to have abortion after abortion. Your post makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and your attempt to have a "gotcha moment" with "turn about is fair play" was nothing more than a giant brain fart analogy fail.

    July 3, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  25. Thomas

    Dose this the same guy who asks for money on the christen channel ?

    Portraying starving children as he drives by in his limo ?

    July 3, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |