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Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell Apologizes, Returns $120,000 in Loans to Jonnie Williams

McDonnell announced that he and his family have paid back two loans with interest to the Star Scientific CEO.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. Patch archives. Photo Credit: William Callahan
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. Patch archives. Photo Credit: William Callahan

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Tuesday he and his wife have repaid more than $120,000 in loans from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams and apologized for the “embarrassment” the ongoing ethics controversy has caused Virginia.

In a statement released via his Twitter account, McDonnell said his family had returned $52,278 for a loan made to his wife, Maureen McDonnell, in 2011 and another $71,837 for a loan made to the real estate business McDonnell owns with his sister.

“I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment certain members of my family and I brought upon my beloved Virginia and her citizens,” McDonnell said in the statement. “I want you to know that I broke no laws and that I am committed to regaining your sacred trust and confidence. I hope today’s action is another step towards that end.”

McDonnell's statement did not directly address thousands of dollars in gifts that Williams gave to the governor and members of his family, including a $15,000 dollar catering bill for McDonnell’s daughter’s wedding and a $6,500 Rolex watch that was eventually gifted to the governor.

Federal and state investigators have been looking into McDonnell’s relationship with Williams for months and the scandal has grabbed headlines around the country. It’s also become a talking point in the Commonwealth’s 2013 race for governor.

The Washington Post has reported that McDonnell and his wife had promoted a supplement manufactured by Star Scientific, coinciding with gifts from Williams, but McDonnell has said he did no such thing.

The ethics investigation has caused some Virginia politicians to call for McDonnell’s resignation. State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) has urged the governor to come clean on his involvement with Williams, return the gifts, or resign.

Gubernatorial Candidates Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli cautiously addressed the scandal during their first debate on Saturday, July 20.

Cuccinelli said it would be “appropriate” to ask McDonnell to think about the prospect. McAuliffe said Virginians should let the investigation play out before making any judgments.

The issue has also prompted the candidates to release their own gift disclosure policies.

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