At least one lawyer from Cuccinelli’s office was present at that meeting, the papers say. But the attorney general initially neither recused his office from the case nor ended his relationship with Star Scientific and its chief executive, Jonnie R. Williams Sr., who paid for the food at the McDonnell wedding.
In June and July 2012 — after Schneider turned over the documents about Williams — Cuccinelli made a profit selling 1,500 shares of Star stock at $4.70 a share, a near 52-week high for the company’s stock price.
He also vacationed at Williams’s home at Smith Mountain Lake in summer 2012, after Schneider had been interviewed by the FBI, state police and investigators for the attorney general’s office about Williams.
Schneider’s attorneys argued that Cuccinelli, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor, stood to gain financially and politically by forging ahead with his prosecution of the chef and trying to undermine Schenider’s credibility.
Cuccinelli said the filing is a distraction and has nothing to do with the case. “Jonnie has as close to nothing to do with whether that guy [Schneider] embezzled food or not as can be the case,” he said. “He either embezzled food or he didn’t, and Jonnie just doesn’t have anything to do with that.” The attorney general also said he lost money from his total investment in Star.
Williams’s attorney, Jerry Kilgore, declined to comment, as did McDonnell.
In the motion, Steve Benjamin and Betty Layne Desportes, Schneider’s attorneys, said that at a March 2012 meeting, the chef provided investigators with information concerning Williams’s “efforts to ingratiate himself within the mansion” with gifts to McDonnell, his wife, Maureen, and other members of the first family. That included the payments for the McDonnells’ daughter’s wedding in June 2011, a summer vacation in 2011, and the use of expensive cars and a private jet, the motion indicates.
McDonnell has said the catering was a wedding gift to daughter Cailin and did not need to be publicly disclosed. Virginia law does not require disclosure of gifts to immediate family members of elected officials. Schneider was the caterer for the wedding.
Cuccinelli amended his disclosure forms in late 2012 to reflect for the first time his stock holdings in Star. While he disclosed some gifts he’d received from Williams, he omitted others — including his 2012 summer vacation — revealing them publicly only Friday. He said the lack of disclosure was an oversight.