McDonnell describes Star Scandal as ‘bump in the road’

Posted at 7:33 PM, Sep 05, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-05 19:44:22-04

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- Governor Bob McDonnell is maintaining a busy schedule despite an ongoing federal investigation into his relationship with GOP donor and Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams.

The investigation center around whether or not Williams got anything in return from the Governor in exchange for the nearly $150,000 dollars worth of gifts and loans McDonnell and his family received from Williams over an 18 month period.

Some of the gifts included vacations, checks to McDonnell daughters for their weddings, golf clubs for the governor's sons, a shopping spree for the First Lady, and even a Rolex watch.

Loans were intended to help McDonnell's struggling real estate business.

While McDonnell has said in the past that the gifts and loans have been repaid, federal investigators are still investigating and deliberating whether or not to indict the governor.

When asked by CBS 6 political reporter Joe St. George Thursday how the morale of his staff is in the aftermath of the star scientific investigation McDonnell said it was "great."

McDonnell went on to call the investigation "a bump in the road."

St. George pressed the Governor by saying it was "more than a bump in the road" - reminding the governor a possible indictment could occur.

"Look, what I am looking at, is how do I finish this term strong," McDonnell replied. "I have complied with every Virginia law and I can't control what other people are going to do," McDonnell went onto say.

While McDonnell's legal fees regarding a possible Star Scientific indictment from the feds are being covered by a private legal fund, fees associated with another legal quandary surrounding the Governor are being billed to the tax payer.

Former Executive Mansion Chef Todd Schneider, who is set to go to trial in October over charges of embezzlement, is also making accusations against the Governor and his staff.

While Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli would normally represent the Governor, Cuccinelli recused himself from the case citing a conflict of interest with potential witnesses brought forth by Schneider lawyers.

As a result a private legal team, lead by former Attorney General Tony Troy, has billed the state over $140,000 dollars for services rendered over 11 weeks.

To put that in perspective that is almost the equivalent of Attorney General Cuccinelli's annual salary.

"Those bills are not of my request the attorney general appointed that counsel," McDonnell said.

McDonnell went onto say that it is common for an attorney general to recuse themselves from various cases, adding that he did that when Gov. Tim Kaine was in office.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's office would not say why such a pricey law firm was selected to handle the governor's case.