Transcript: McDonnell says ‘I did nothing illegal’

January 21

The following is the transcript of former Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s statement Tuesday night after his indictment.

Good evening. I’m here with my wife Maureen my daughter Cailin and my son in law Chris and I really appreciate this opportunity to address the people of Virginia here tonight. I come before you this evening as someone who has been falsely and wrongfully accused and whose public service has been wrongfully attacked. Earlier today federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against me and my wife Maureen alleging that we violated federal law by accepting gifts and loans from Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of Star Scientific. While I deeply regret accepting these legal gifts and loans from Mr. Williams, all of these now have been returned or repaid, I have apologized for my poor judgement and I have accepted full responsibility for accepting these legal gifts and loans. However I repeat again emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believe was his personal friendship and generosity.

I never promised, and Mr. Williams and his company never received any government benefit of any kind FROM me or my Administration: no contract, loan, grant, funding, legislation, budget appropriation, regulation, board or commission appointment, or any other official state benefit. I never promised or attempted to influence anyone to give Mr. Williams or his company any official state benefit. I did not try to hide or deceive anyone about my friendship with Mr. Williams. Two independent and non-political investigations have confirmed that Mr. Williams and Star Scientific received nothing from the State and not one penny of taxpayer money went to him or to Star Scientific during our administration. Not one penny. Star Scientific themselves publicly confirmed last spring that it never sought nor received any special benefits from any public official.

The federal government’s case rests entirely on a misguided legal theory and that is that facilitating an introduction or meeting, appearing at a reception or expressing support for a Virginia business is a serious federal crime if it involves a political donor or someone who gave a gift. 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 with providing tangible benefits to donors. My admin 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, charities and other organizations whether they were donors or not. 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 its breaking point in this case.

My fellow Virginians for 37 years I have loyally and enthusiastically served my country and state as a United States Army Officer, as a prosecutor, as a member of the Virginia house of delegates, as the attorney general of Virginia, and for the last four years are your governor. Serving as governor has been the highest professional honor of my life, and I have given my heart and soul working tirelessly for the good of the people of Virginia. My actions over the past four years were completely dedicated to providing common sense and compassionate solutions to the challenges that face the people of Virginia. My team and I worked successfully with Republicans and Democrats to support our citizens and our work provided good results from creating jobs and new economic opportunities with record budget surpluses, enacting major education reforms, fixing our state’s transportation system and pension liabilities to taking care of prisoners, and foster children, and the homeless.

Former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) says he and his wife "did not violate the law" after being indicted by a federal grand jury and charged with accepting bribes. (Reuters)

Although the federal investigation of my family has been indescribably agonizing over the past year, I believe that the facts and the law are clearly on our side and we will face these false accusations with strength and firm resolve. Because I have great faith in God who has given me the immense privilege of serving in positions of public trust in Virginia now for over 22 years. And I also have tremendous family and devoted friends who have supported me during this ordeal. But I also have great faith in the American system of justice, where I served as a prosecutor for a number of years. I will use every available resource and avenue that I have for as long as it takes to fight and prevail against these false allegations and the unjust overreach of the federal government. There is no way for me to fully convey how much I appreciate the ongoing steadfast support and encouragement that I have received over the many months including today from family, from friends and from people that I worked with over 37 years of public life. So I thank them tonight for giving me this support during this most difficult and unexpected ordeal of my life. My family and I are most grateful for your prayers and for your affections. Thank you so much for listening to me.

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