McDonnell Denies Ever Abusing Office: ‘I Love The People Of Virginia’

November 14, 2013 6:09 a.m.

In an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Thursday morning, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) admitted that, with the “benefit of hindsight,” he would have done “some things” differently during his term in office, but he denied ever having abused his power. Federal prosecutors have for months been investigating McDonnell and his family’s relationship with a wealthy Virginia businessman and political donor.  

“In retrospect, do you agree that it looks like you abused the position?” host Mika Brzezinski asked McDonnell.  

“No, absolutely not,” McDonnel said. “I have never. I love the people of Virginia, I love this office.”

“How would you characterize it, then?” Brzezinski asked.

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“Well, I followed the law,” McDonnell said. “I accepted gifts — a lot of other governors have done the same thing. But in retrospect, I understand that it undermined the trust of the people in me, and that’s why I made the changes that I did, and why I apologized, and why we’ll recommend some ethics reform changes in the law.”

McDonnell and his family came under scrutiny for accepting more than $150,000 in gifts and payments in recent years from Jonnie Williams, the CEO of an embattled dietary supplements company named Star Scientific. During a time that the gifts were given, McDonnell and his wife, Maureen McDonnell, took steps to support the company. The McDonnells repaid and returned Williams’ money after their ties to the businessman became a scandal earlier this year.

In his interview on Thursday, McDonnell said he would be proposing a series of reforms to Virginia’s political finance laws, because “I don’t want anyone else to go through this.” He also took a moment to criticize coverage of the scandal.

“Some of the things that have been written have been either inaccurate or unfair or one-sided, and there will be a time for me to comment on that,” McDonnell said.

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