Favola made her comments in response to a story in Wednesday’s Washington Post that Virginia businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. had given $70,000 to a corporation owned by McDonnell and his sister, a $50,000 check to first lady Maureen McDonnell and $10,000 to their daughter, Jeanine, to help defray the costs of her May wedding. Those gifts or loans came on top of $15,000 that, as The Post reported in March, Williams provided to cover the catering at the wedding of another McDonnell daughter, Cailin, in June 2011.
McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin declined to comment. McDonnell has previously said that he has done nothing wrong and provided no favors to Williams in exchange for any gifts.
McDonnell and his wife have helped Williams promote Star Scientific’s nutritional supplement, Anatabloc, with personal appearances by the first lady and a launch party at the governor’s mansion. But McDonnell has said their efforts have been in line with what they would do to boost any Virginia business.
House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) dismissed any talk of resignation as “partisan political potshots.”
“What has he done other than perhaps not report some things on time?” Howell said, referring to financial disclosure forms that did not include some of the gifts.
Favola went further than Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax), who on his blog last week called on McDonnell to return the gifts and fully explain them to the public or resign. Petersen repeated that call on his blog Tuesday night when the Post story went online.
“I’ll repeat what I stated in writing one week ago: it’s time for the Governor to come clean on all these gifts, return the retail items, and make this right,” Petersen said. “Otherwise, it’s time to step down.”
Favola also went further than House Democratic leaders did in a telephone news conference organized Wednesday morning in response to the Post report. House Democratic Leader David Toscano (Charlottesville) and chairman Mark Sickles (Fairfax) called on McDonnell to explain the gifts and loans, but did not call for his resignation. Sen. Mark R. Herring (Loudoun), the Democratic nominee for attorney general, struck a similar note in a conference call of his own.
“Just tell everybody what’s been going on,” Sickles said. “Why loans were made, why careful procedures were made to have technical compliance with the letter of the law, apparently in a lawyer’s view, but certainly not in the spirit of the law.”