McDonnell reacts to legal defense fund, possible changes to disclosure laws

Posted at 1:06 PM, Aug 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-29 13:08:56-04

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) -- Accepting expensive gifts from a political donor and having the information revealed later has tarnished Governor Bob McDonnell's image and is costing him in legal expenses.  As the Governor faces state and federal investigations some in his party do not want McDonnell to go at it alone--at least when it comes to how he pays for the mounting legal bills.  A legal defense fund has been set up to help McDonnell pay his lawyers.

People living in Virginia Beach have created the "Restoration Fund," urging supporters to financially help the Governor.  CBS 6 asked McDonnell about accepting money for legal fees, when he is already under investigation for taking luxury items, monetary gifts and loans from a political donor.  After his monthly "Ask the Governor" radio segment, McDonnell made it clear the fund was launched and is being run by others.  The Governor said he is solely focused on clearing his name.

"I've returned all the gifts that I've received--the tangible gifts," Governor McDonnell said.  "And I've made the apology to the degree that any of the trust to the people that is undermined by anything that I have done I'm deeply sorry for that."

Currently elected state officials can accept gifts of any value and they're only required to disclose anything worth more than $50.  An analysis from the Virginia Public Access Project shows how lobbyists spent nearly $16 million in 2012 into 2013 in gifts for Virginia politicians, although the laws they are lobbying for are not disclosed.  McDonnell addressed this issue, saying there could possibly be some changes in store regarding political disclosure laws.

"Our laws are a little bit less specific and of course we don't have any caps on gifts and so forth," McDonnell said.  "But I think there is more interest to the public now, than having more sunshine and perhaps more limits on these gifts."

McDonnell added, at this time he has a bipartisan group working to determine if changes need to be made to the disclosure laws.