Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli said Friday that if he could, he would “just write a check” to repay the remaining value of the gifts he received from a prominent donor whose relationship with Gov. Robert F. McDonnell is the subject of state and federal investigations.
Cuccinelli made his remarks to reporters after the Battleground Forum held at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas. His opponent, Terry McAuliffe, and other Democrats have called on Cuccinelli to return the $18,000 in gifts Cuccinelli has reported receiving from dietary supplement company Star Scientific’s chief executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr.
Cuccinelli, who serves as Virginia’s attorney general, has maintained that those gifts — including a flight, turkey dinner, stays at Williams’s vacation home and nearly $7,000 in supplements — were intangible items that he is unable to return.
But when pressed about reimbursing for the monetary value, Cuccinelli responded, “You mean just write a check? If I could do that, I just might do that. But that’s just not something I can do, from my family’s perspective.”
It was unclear what the attorney general meant by his statement, although his campaign later attempted to clarify the remark.
“As a father of seven children, like most Virginians, he needs to manage a family budget, and his comment simply reflected that reality,” said campaign adviser Chris LaCivita.
Earlier this week, Cuccinelli called for McDonnell to convene a special session of the General Assembly to address ethics reform this month, but the governor has declined. In recent weeks, the attorney general has sought to cast his disclosure lapses as separate from McDonnell, who is in the process of returning and repaying more than $150,000 in gifts and loans his family has received from Williams.
Cuccinelli initially failed to report stock holdings in Star Scientific and about $4,500 in gifts. He said the lack of disclosure was an oversight and points out that he was proactive in correcting his reports in April and has called for changes in the state’s ethics laws.