The scandal surrounding Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), which has intensified in recent weeks and threatens to push him from office, took an unexpected turn today when the governor apologized for causing "embarrassment" and announced he has repaid the loans he and his wife received from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie R. Williams Sr.
From a statement posted online (pdf) today:
"Being governor of Virginia is the highest honor of my 37 years in public service. I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment certain members of my family and I brought upon my beloved Virginia and her citizens. I want you to know that I broke no laws and that I am committed to regaining your trust and confidence. I hope today's action is another step toward that end."Virginia has never been stronger and I plan to focus on creating even more jobs and facilitating greater opportunity during the last five months of my term as your Governor. Our work together on education, transportation, pension reform, voting rights, and economic expansion has produced great results for Virginia."
The statement, the authenticity of which has been confirmed by The Rachel Maddow Show, goes on to say that Virginia's first family has repaid Williams' loans, including a $52,278. 17 loan to Maureen McDonnell in 2011 and two 2012 loans totaling $71,837 given to a real-estate business the governor owns.
The Washington Post noted today's move "appears to represent a shift in strategy." That's certainly true -- up until now, the governor insisted he had nothing to apologize for, and wasn't in any rush to repay the generous loans the Star Scientific CEO sent his way.
Of course, if McDonnell expects this to resolve the matter, he's going to be disappointed. After all, the scandal goes well beyond the loans, and included, among other things the extravagant shopping spree, the engraved Rolex watch, the lake house vacation, and the use of a Ferrari. There's also all the steps, of course, the governor took on Williams' behalf.
In other words, the scandal is far from over.