Governor under investigation for financial disclosure

Posted at 12:44 PM, May 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-22 13:52:29-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said he handed the investigation into Governor Bob McDonnell’s possible “financial disclosure” violations to Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Herring. Cuccinelli referred the case to Herring in November 2012 after he said information came to his attention that “triggered” his requirement to look into the matter.

“I did what I have consistently tried to do as attorney general, which is to uphold the law impartially,” Cuccinelli said in a statement. “The law also requires me to designate a commonwealth’s attorney with independent discretion to investigate the matter further. My referral to Mr. Herring was not a conclusion that any violation occurred. Under the law, that conclusion will be made by Mr. Herring alone.”

Today’s statement comes weeks after we learned the FBI was investigating McDonnell donor and Henrico business owner Jonnie Williams.

Williams, according to the Washington Post, is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Post reported the FBI has interviewed McDonnell for the investigation.

That investigation shed light on how much McDonnell has taken from Williams over the years.

State law requires politicians disclose gifts of more than $50.

Gifts have included a vacation at Smith Mountain Lake, the opportunity to drive Williams’ white Ferrarri back to Richmond and a $15,000 check to help pay for food at McDonnell’s daughter’s June 2011 wedding. The Governor said he was not required to disclose that wedding gift because it went to his daughter and not to him.

“Mr. [Jonnie] Williams gave my daughter a wedding present. As you know under the reporting laws, the gifts that come to me, I report, and I’ve been doing this for 22 years. Gifts that come to me I regularly, diligently report those. But gifts that come to other family members under the current law, are not reportable,” Governor McDonnell said in a April 10 interview.

The Washington Post reported the governor’s signature and handwritten notes were on the catering contract that Williams’ gift covered. The Post also reported, due to an overpayment, a $3,500 refund check from the caterer was paid to First Lady Maureen McDonnell and not the newlyweds.

[Statement from governor’s office on why the refund went to the governor and his wife]

Former Executive Mansion chef Todd Schneider’s company, Seasonings Fine Catering, catered the Governor’s daughter’s wedding. The Governor is currently involved in a legal battle with Schneider.

Schneider faces grand larceny charges for taking food and supplies from the kitchen at the Executive Mansion. Grand larceny charges start at $200, but the total amount has not been disclosed. Schneider was let go of his position in 2011.

His trial will begin in October.

McDonnell was been appointed outside counsel after Cuccinelli recused himself from the felony embezzlement case.  Anthony Troy, former Attorney General of Virginia for one year starting in 1977, will serve as special counsel for the governor, based on a letter obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch under the Freedom of Information Act.