Cuccinelli cuts $18,000 charity check to cover Star Scientific gifts

Posted at 2:50 PM, Sep 10, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-11 00:23:40-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Virginia Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli published a video Tuesday in which he said he sent an $18,000 check to a Richmond-based charity to "resolve any questions surrounding the matter concerning Star Scientific."

"I made the decision to send the check because it is the right thing to do," Cuccinelli said. "For those who've been disappointed in this situation or how I've handled it, I apologize. It's been a humbling set of lessons for me."

Cuccinelli donated the money to Crossover Ministries, which helps provide healthcare for uninsured and low-income Virginians. Officials said the donation means the organization can hire another mental health counselor.

“There is a huge need for mental health services and the funds will be used for just that,” said Crossover Ministries Executive Director Julie S. Bilodeau in a statement.

Cuccinelli received $18,000 worth of gifts from Jonnie Williams, the CEO of Henrico-based Star Scientific Jonnie Williams. Earlier this year, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell gave back all the gifts he'd received from Williams over the years.

The relationship between Williams and the governor is at the center of an investigation to determine whether the governor gave Williams and his company preferential treatment. Governor McDonnell has repeatedly denied doing so.

After news of Cuccinelli's charity check broke, one of his gubernatorial opponents released a statement.

"Cuccinelli’s pattern of ethical behavior is always the same: get caught in scandals, do nothing for months, and then buckle to pressure for his own political reasons," McAuliffe spokesperson Josh Schwerin wrote in a statement. "Cuccinelli’s actions today are a reminder that he failed to seriously pursue Star Scientific for the $1.7 million they owed in back taxes at the same time that he was taking lavish gifts, luxury vacations and extravagant meals from the company’s CEO."