Like all new governors and their families, the McDonnells were told the expense rules at the outset of the administration but needed some time for them to sink in, Johnson said in an interview. Energy drinks aside, Johnson said that ever since he gave the McDonnells their refresher on what the state will and won’t pay for, their spending has been in line with state policy.
“Typically when an administration comes in, we do discuss things,” he said. “There are growing pains, and early on in the administration, there will be some things we have to review and discuss.”
Washington Post coverage of Gov. Bob McDonnell and ties to Star Scientific.
But sales receipts released by the state indicate that energy drinks are not the only extra the governor and first lady have continued to get at state expense. They went on to bill taxpayers for myriad medicine-cabinet products, vitamins and the body wash that Johnson said shouldn’t be billed, records show.
Records also show that the McDonnells used state employees to run personal errands for their children — and directed the employees to use the mansion credit card to pay for their children’s personal items.
In some cases, personal items for the McDonnell children are the only products listed on mansion credit card receipts. In those instances, the errands do not appear to have been performed in conjunction with any official state business.
In July 2011, for example, a state employee picked up Rachel McDonnell’s hemmed pants at Lucy’s Divine Creations, located 20 minutes west of the mansion. And that November, a worker was dispatched to Handcraft Cleaners, 30 minutes away, to get a box for Cailin McDonnell’s wedding dress. The $24 charge for the hemming and the $49.50 cost of the box went on the mansion credit card. The McDonnells later repaid the state for those personal expenses, but not for the use of employee time.
Martin said that Maureen McDonnell would have run those errands herself, but because she is the first lady, she must always travel with a security detail.
“First Ladies have Executive Police Protection,” Martin wrote. “They cannot just jump in their own car and run errands. Therefore the reimbursement process exists to allow First Families to reimburse for personal items that may have been picked up by staff.”