McDonnell’s spokesman said the governor and his family have taken a vacation at Smith Mountain Lake near Roanoke every summer since he took office in 2010 — each time as a gift from a donor.
McDonnell (R) referenced the 2011 trip on his mandatory financial disclosure forms, spokesman Tucker Martin said. The form includes a line indicating that the governor received $2,268 in “lodging and entertainment” that year from Williams, but it provides no details about the gift.
Under Virginia law, elected officials are allowed to accept gifts of any size, including vacations, provided they are annually disclosed.
The vacation at Williams’s lake house adds new details about McDonnell’s relationship with the donor, which has been under scrutiny since The Washington Post reported that Williams paid $15,000 for catering at the June 2011 wedding of McDonnell’s daughter, Cailin. The gift came as McDonnell and his wife Maureen worked to promote the company, which was introducing a new product.
It also highlights the lack of specificity required of gift disclosures in Virginia. The law sets virtually no requirements for what level of detail needs to be revealed.
McDonnell’s 2011 form provides no indication that the gift from Williams was a vacation, nor does it provide the date of the gift. It offers no breakdown to indicate how he determined what the gift was worth.
There is no ethics panel or other entity in Virginia to review the forms for accuracy.
During his 2009 campaign for governor, McDonnell called for the creation of an ethics panel, but after his election he decided one was unnecessary after the establishment of a new inspector general charged with investigating fraud at state agencies.
Martin, the governor’s spokesman, confirmed the gift from Williams. He said McDonnell and his family stayed for four days at Williams’s home at Smith Mountain Lake, a popular vacation destination.
Martin said that as a favor to the executive, the family drove one of Williams’s cars, a Range Rover, to the lake house and drove the Ferrari back to Richmond from Franklin County.
A picture obtained by The Post shows Williams’s white hardtop Ferrari convertible parked in front of Virginia’s 200-year-old governor’s mansion.
“There was no recreational use of vehicles,” Martin said. “The family was simply helping Mr. Williams get one car to his Smith Mountain Lake house and return another to Richmond.”
Jerry Kilgore, an attorney for Williams, declined to comment.
McDonnell is not the only elected official who has taken family vacations courtesy of donors. In 2005, Timothy M. Kaine (D) reported receiving an $18,000 gift from investor James B. Murray Jr., who had contributed $41,000 to Kaine’s campaign. Kaine was serving as Virginia’s lieutenant governor and was elected governor that year.