In Virginia, scandal-plagued Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is scurrying to give back the luxurious gifts he received from Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, but the governor is not the only Republican caught up in this controversy. State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R), who hopes to replace McDonnell, is involved, too.
So, in light of this week’s developments, is there any chance the far-right candidate might follow McDonnell’s lead? Apparently not.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says he’s glad Gov. Bob McDonnell is returning all the gifts he received from a major political donor. But he has no plans to repay the more than $18,000 in gifts he received from the same benefactor.
Cuccinelli told reporters Wednesday that Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams didn’t give him the kind of gifts that can be returned. Among the gifts from Williams listed in Cuccinelli’s financial disclosure statements are a $1,500 catered Thanksgiving dinner, private jet trips and vacation lodging. Cuccinelli said, “There are some bells you can’t unring.”
Perhaps. But ordinarily under circumstances like these, the politician interested in avoiding the appearance of impropriety can do more than nothing. Williams gave Cuccinelli private jet trips? Cuccinelli could determine the value of the trip and pay the benefactor back. Williams gave him vacation lodging? Cuccinelli could write a check for a comparable amount, and perhaps donate it to charity.
This what’s-done-is-done response isn’t altogether satisfying given the allegations of corruption.
Also note, Cuccinelli’s role in the story isn’t just the $18,000 in gifts he accepted – just as important is the Republican’s investment strategy involving Star Scientific stock and the fact that Cuccinelli offered legal advice to Williams after Williams sued the commonwealth.
Questions about this scandal won’t away fade easily.