Gov. McDonnell: ‘I Know Who My Friends Are’

In an interview with the Associated Press, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) offered a few more details about his relationship with Jonnie Williams, the donor and businessman whose relationship with the governor is now the subject of a federal probe. 

“We had a very positive relationship for three or four years,” McDonnell told the AP. “Right now, we’re just in a different situation.”

McDonnell said he saw similarities between himself and Williams, who is currently the CEO of a struggling dietary supplements maker called Star Scientific. McDonnell, who years ago worked for the American Hospital Supply Corporation, said he and Williams “had interesting early discussions about the field of health care and about our families.”

“I admire people who are entrepreneurial, who are finding ways to create opportunities in Virginia and that’s one of the reasons that when I first met him back in ‘09 (or) ‘10 that we established a friendship,” McDonnell said. “We both had big families. He had four kids, I had five.”

McDonnell has for weeks been referring to his friendship with Williams in the past tense, and his spokesperson lashed out at Williams and his company earlier this week, after Star Scientific announced that it did not expect to be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. 

“I know who my friends are, and I have been blessed over the last 22 years to have a lot of great friends,” McDonnell told the AP this week. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website?s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl@talkingpointsmemo.com

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