The documents were obtained in response to a Freedom of Information Act request for communications between various state employees and Star workers. While a handful of e-mails were released in response to the request, a McDonnell lawyer indicated that 10 others were withheld from the public because they were considered “working papers” of the governor or because they were “not prepared for or used in the transaction of public business.”
In September 2011, Maureen McDonnell e-mailed Williams to invite him and his wife, Celeste, to a fashion show to benefit the American Cancer Society.
A year later, she e-mailed an invitation to a Republican Governors Association golf outing featuring Donald Trump. In December 2011, she sent Williams an invitation to a Romney fundraising reception at a Richmond hotel.
“Dearest Jonnie — Hope everything is going well for you both, and I look forward to the next time we are able to get together,” Maureen McDonnell wrote to Williams in a May 2012 e-mail before asking him to become a paid sponsor of a coffee-table book she was helping to publish to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the governor’s mansion.
At the February 2012 event for the health-care industry at the governors mansion, 21 of the 38 doctors who Williams suggested be invited made the cut, according to an attendance list released by the governor’s office, including one who had recorded a radio ad in the Richmond area for Anatabloc.
In addition, four Star Scientific employees — including Williams and son Jonnie Williams Jr. — attended the event. Two other scientists who have been paid consultants to Star’s scientific research also made the list.
Star was the only private company to send so many employees to the reception, which mostly included hospital executives and state lawmakers.
The governor’s spokesman said the health-care event was “similar to dozens of other events” held for leaders in various industries and that it was not unusual that Williams was asked to suggest possible attendees.
“Stakeholders are regularly asked for input in regard to who is invited to such events,” Martin said.
Del. Robert H. Brink, an Arlington Democrat who sits on the key health subcommittee of the powerful Appropriations Committee, was also there. He said the event provided attendees a rare opportunity to mingle in a social setting with lawmakers during the legislative session.
“It’s certainly useful,” he said of an invitation to such an event for a company. “It gives representatives of private companies a chance for face time with members of the General Assembly. And the smaller the number, the more distinctive they are.”
Alice Crites and Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.