Cuccinelli’s spot, titled “Facts,” also aims to put more distance between himself and McDonnell, the subject of state and federal investigations into luxury gifts and loans that a Virginia businessman provided to the governor and his family. Cuccinelli has his own ties to the businessman, Star Scientific chief executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr., but he also called on a state prosecutor to investigate the governor.
Williams provided $18,000 in gifts to Cuccinelli, who initially failed to disclose $4,500 of them as well as extensive stock holdings in Star. At the time, Cuccinelli’s office was representing the state in a civil tax suit brought by Star. Cuccinelli, who later had his office recused from the tax case, has said that the reporting lapses were oversights. A Richmond prosecutor reviewed the matter and found no evidence that Cuccinelli had broken the law.
As it seeks to squelch the notion of any Star-related wrongdoing, Cuccinelli’s ad also raises questions about McAuliffe and the electric car company he co-founded, which is the subject of a federal securities investigation related to how it sought foreign investors.
“There’s only one candidate under investigation: Terry McAuliffe,” Cuccinelli’s ad begins. “Potential fraud that killed jobs and threatened national security. And the press calls McAuliffe’s attacks false. A Democrat commonwealth attorney cleared Cuccinelli of any wrongdoing. Cuccinelli personally launched the investigation into Bob McDonnell. And called for immediate reform to strengthen ethics laws. Those are the facts.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission is examining how GreenTech Automotive and its sister company, Gulf Coast Funds Management, sought financing through the federal EB-5 visa program, which allows foreign investors to enter the country to create jobs.
McAuliffe, who quietly left GreenTech in December, has said he has no knowledge of the SEC inquiry. There is no indication that McAuliffe is personally under investigation.
“For an ad called ‘Facts,’ it omits quite a few about how Ken Cuccinelli accepted and then failed to report thousands of dollars in gifts, trips, and a $1,500 turkey dinner from Star Scientific and its CEO Jonnie Williams while their tax bill sat unpaid,” McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin said. “Between his involvement in this major gifts scandal and the inspector general’s investigation of his office for helping out-of-state-energy companies over Virginia landowners, Ken Cuccinelli can’t hide the facts about his record of putting his own interests first.”