McDonnell calls indictment ‘unjust overreach of federal government’

Posted at 6:01 PM, Jan 21, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-22 03:06:28-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, with his wife, daughter and son-in-law by his side, Tuesday maintained that he and his family did nothing illegal by accepting gifts and loans from former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams.

“While I deeply regret accepting these legal gifts and loans from Mr. Williams, all of these now have been returned or repaid with interest.”

Reading from a prepared statement, McDonnell once again apologized for using “poor judgment” when he accepted “legal gifts and loans,” but said his public service has been wrongfully attacked.

“However, I repeat again emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal friendship and his generosity," McDonnell said. "I never promised -- and Mr. Williams and his company -- never received any government benefit from any kind from me or my administration.”

Earlier today McDonnell and his wife were indicted in connection to their relationship with political donor Williams, a decision that the Washington Post said was delayed after McDonnell's lawyers appealed to Justice Department officials.

“Star Scientific themselves publically confirmed just last spring that it never sought nor received any special benefits from any public official," McDonnell said Tuesday.

“The federal government’s case rests entirely on a misguided legal theory, and that is that facilitating an introduction or a meeting, appearing at a reception or expressing support for a Virginia business is a serious federal crime if it involves a political donor or somebody who gave an official a gift," McDonnell continued.

"The United States Supreme Court has already rejected this radical idea, and for good reason, because if it were applied as the law of the land, then nearly every elected official from President Obama on down would have to be charged for providing tangible benefits to donors," McDonnell said.

"My administration provided Mr. Williams the same routine courtesies and access to state government that I and every other governor before me afforded to thousands of individuals, companies and charities and other organizations whether they were donors or not," McDonnell said.

"No other elected official has been successfully prosecuted for such conduct, yet federal officials in Washington, in their zeal to find a basis for charging Maureen and me, have decided to stretch the law to the breaking point in this case."

Stay with CBS 6 News and for the latest on this developing story.