Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said in a live radio interview on Tuesday that his wife’s office organized a 2011 event at the executive mansion for a company run by a donor whose relationship with McDonnell is now under investigation.
“There’s sort of a misconception,” McDonnell said in the WTOP interview. “I was not in a role of promoting Star Scientific. There was an event held at the mansion in 2011. The event was arranged by the First Lady’s office.”
Star Scientific, a dietary supplements maker which is under federal investigation, is run by Jonnie Williams, the donor whose gifts and loans to McDonnell and his family have been in the headlines for weeks. McDonnell’s relationship with Williams is itself reportedly the subject of state and federal probes, and the governor and his family have recently returned over $120,000 in loans to Williams. McDonnell said Tuesday he plans to return thousands of dollars worth of gifts as well.
McDonnell called the 2011 event at the Virginia’s executive mansion a small “private event,” which was held to commemorate Star Scientific giving money to the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University.
Asked pointedly about his wife’s attendance at a 2011 Star Scientific event in Florida, McDonnell chose to emphasize the number of events his wife has attended in her role as First Lady.
“She is able to do the things that she believes are supportive of the mission of the governor,” McDonnell said. “And part and parcel of that was supporting health care, supporting businesses, supporting our veterans.”
Photo: Virginia gubernatorial candidate, Bob McDonnell, flanked by his wife Maureen, points to a supporter in the crowd during a rally at the McDonnell campaign headquarters, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009 in Chesapeake, Va.