McAuliffe Web ad seeks to tie Cuccinelli gifts from Star to past donations controversy

August 6, 2013

Terry McAuliffe’s campaign for Virginia governor is looking to keep up pressure on Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II to return the gifts he received from a wealthy Virginia donor at the center of multiple investigations.

Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for governor, has said he does not plan to return $18,000 worth of gifts he received from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the head of the dietary supplement company Star Scientific. The gifts mostly came in the form of meals and free lodging, and Cuccinelli said last week, ““There are some bells you can’t unring,” Cuccinelli said.

Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) has said he will return the gifts and has repaid the loans he got from Williams.

In a new Web video that will run as an ad on YouTube, the McAuliffe campaign seeks to link Cuccinelli’s handling of the gifts from Williams to a 2010 controversy involving $55,000 in donations to Cuccinelli’s campaign for attorney general from Bobby Thompson, founder of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association.

The charity faced law enforcement investigations in several states for its solicitation practices, and Thompson — whose real name is John Donald Cody — is awaiting trial on multiple felony counts, including theft and money laundering charges.


Cuccinelli's involvement with Star Scientific

While other Virginia politicians who had received funds from Thompson quickly said they would donate the funds to charity, Cuccinelli resisted doing so for roughly two months before changing course.

“How long will it take him to do the right thing this time?” the McAuliffe Web ad asks, comparing the two cases. The Virginia Democratic Party has also sought to connect the Williams gift to the Thompson donations.

Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix said the McAuliffe campaign was seeking to distract from his own controversy surrounding GreenTech, the electric car firm co-founded by the Democratic nominee. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating GreenTech and a sister company for their use of a federal program that gives visas to foreign investors in U.S. companies, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector general is conducting a separate probe related to the companies’ visas.

“To hear Terry McAuliffe — whose company is under two federal investigations, who rented the Lincoln Bedroom and Air Force One to campaign donors, who loaned one million dollars to the Clintons to buy their New York home, and who used his political connections to make millions while others lost their jobs — breathe a single word about ethics or campaign donations is the height of hypocrisy,” Nix said.

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