Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s (R) defense for his corruption scandal began in earnest last week. The governor announced last Tuesday that he’d repaid the loans he and his wife received from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie R. Williams Sr.
Today, McDonnell went a little further, saying he’s working to arrange the return of the other gifts – including the Rolex.
“My intent is everything I have received from this particular donor … that those gifts that I have in my possession, I am working with my counsel to be able to return,” McDonnell said on WTOP radio.
The governor said that his daughter has already reimbursed Williams for the $15,000 wedding catering tab the Star Scientific CEO had paid for in 2011. That gift was not initially disclosed because family members of public officials aren’t required to disclose gifts under Virginia law.
McDonnell said that his decision to repay two loans (with interest) last week was “the first of many things that I intend to do.”
It’s not yet clear how far McDonnell intends to take this, and the details matter because some of the “gifts” can’t be returned. Does he intend to pay the Star Scientific CEO for the use of a Ferrari? For the lake-house vacation?
It’s also unclear why it took so long to get to this point, why McDonnell intervened in support of his benefactor, and why the governor needs to return these “gifts” after months of arguing there was nothing untoward about his dealings with Williams.
In other words, McDonnell is clearly in the middle of damage-control mode, but his arguments are shifting and the scandal is hardly over.