Va. doctor who lent governor’s firm $50,000 was offered medical board appointment

Melina Mara/The Washington Post - Gov. Robert F. McDonnell delivers the keynote speech at a VA Adopts kick-off event in Fairfax on July 30.

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A Virginia Beach radiologist lent $50,000 to a real estate corporation owned by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his sister in 2010 — the same year the doctor was offered an appointment to a state medical board.

Paul Davis, who said he met McDonnell in church and has been friends with the governor for about 12 years, said he believes the appointment offer was unrelated to the financial assistance he provided the governor.

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Timeline: Star Scientific and Gov. McDonnell
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Timeline: Star Scientific and Gov. McDonnell

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Davis said he declined the appointment because he believed it would take him away from his lucrative medical practice.

But the loan offers a new example of how McDonnell’s personal finances became entangled with his public role as the governor struggled to keep up with payments on property investments he and his family made during the height of the real estate boom.

Davis’s loan also appears to have been handled differently than a subsequent $70,000 payment made to the same real estate company by Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the chief executive of a dietary supplement company.

Williams’s payment, as well as other money and gifts the executive provided to the governor’s family, are at the center of ongoing state and federal investigations.

While Davis said he was sent regular monthly repayment checks by MoBo Real Estate Partners, three people familiar with the Williams transaction have said he was not repaid any money before last month, when McDonnell apologized to Virginians for the gifts scandal and announced he had repaid $124,000 to Williams.

That payment was intended to return with interest Williams’s payment to MoBo, as well as $50,000 given by Williams to McDonnell’s wife Maureen in 2011.

McDonnell said neither Williams nor his company, Star Scientific, received special treatment and that he had broken no laws.

It also appears that McDonnell might have reported the loan from Davis on his financial disclosure form for 2010, whereas he did not disclose the loan from Williams in the same way.

McDonnell (R) has said the $70,000 Williams payment did not need to be disclosed because Virginia law does not require elected officials to disclose their corporate liabilities.

By that reasoning, it is unclear why he would have disclosed a corporate loan from Davis in 2010.

On his financial disclosure form, McDonnell indicated that he received a loan from an individual creditor employed in the “medical services” field in 2010. He checked a box indicating that the loan ranged between $10,001 and $50,000. Both would match Davis’s loan.

Virginia’s disclosure laws, considered some of the most lax in the country, make it impossible to confirm that the 2010 disclosure referred to Davis’s loan to MoBo.

While the law requires that elected officials disclose loans made to them and their families from individuals, it requires only that they disclose a creditor’s profession and not that creditors be named.

Rich Galen, a spokesman for McDonnell’s legal team, would not address whether the 2010 disclosure was referring to Davis or a different creditor.

He declined to comment on Davis’s loan beyond the governor’s July statement indicating that the loans from Williams to MoBo have been repaid with interest.

Sometime before Thanksgiving 2010, McDonnell and his brother-in-law Michael Uncapher approached Davis, the doctor said. Uncapher was married to McDonnell’s sister, who, like the governor’s wife, is named Maureen. “MoBo” comes from a combination of their names — Maureen and Bob.

Davis said McDonnell and Uncapher told him that they were struggling to make payments on two beach houses that they owned in Virginia Beach and rented out for extra income as vacation homes.

“Michael was the one who pretty much told me that they were having a tough time,” Davis said. “They were behind in payments.”

The governor, his wife and his sister purchased one of the homes for $1.15 million in 2005 and the other for $850,000 in 2006. According to assessments, the beach properties have declined in value since then.

McDonnell also purchased an $835,000 house with his wife in the Richmond suburbs in 2006 and a $1 million house at the Wintergreen mountain resort in central Virginia with his wife and two of his sisters and their husbands in 2007.

Davis said he agreed to give the unsecured loan as long as formal documents were drawn up cementing its terms. He said he was repaid with 8 percent interest and was sent a monthly check from MoBo, which he said amounted to about $1,000.

“It was a pure business loan,” Davis said. “I was acting like a banker. The money was given, and it was declared on my federal taxes.”

Davis said he was “pleasantly surprised” to receive a phone call from McDonnell’s sister sometime around March 2012. She informed him, he said, that the family had recently inherited money from the estate of the governor’s parents and that they were prepared to pay off the loan early and in full.

“I thought everything was hunky-dory because I got my payments and that was the end of it,” Davis said.

Williams’s loan to MoBo came that same month.

Sources have differed on whether a repayment plan was in place for that loan. One person familiar with MoBo’s finances indicated that corporate records show that Williams agreed to a low-interest loan, with terms dictating that the corporation would make no payments for three years but would return the $70,000 by 2015.

Davis said he could not recall exactly when he was offered the medical board position but that it was sometime after he agreed to the loan.

“I made it very clear right from the outset that was not something I wanted to do,” Davis said. “I’m a very independent soul. I really do not like to be told by anyone what to do.”

Tucker Martin, a spokesman for the governor, confirmed that Davis was offered an appointment to a seat reserved for a board-certified radiologist on the Radiological Technology Advisory Board.

Records do not show the exact date of the offer, he said, but it was around August 2010. He said Davis was qualified for the position.

“In making board appointments, we strive to appoint the best candidates in their respective fields, while also ensuring that boards reflect the geographic and demographic diversity of the Commonwealth,” Martin said in a statement. “Dr. Davis is an eminently well-qualified radiologist who would have made a great member of the board.”

Davis said he has not been interviewed by either state or federal investigators.

Although McDonnell has apologized for his interactions with Williams, he has resisted providing more detail about his personal finances.

During a lengthy interview on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” radio program last month, he said he has received a number of private and corporate loans.

“I have a lot of loans. I have loans on real estate. I have personal loans that I have made for other things. That’s just part and parcel of one’s normal commercial behavior,” he said.

He said there are “cash-flow issues” that come up with rental property, given that beach homes generally do not rent in the winter months.

“Sometimes we procure small loans; sometimes we put in owners’ capital. That’s just a regular part of operating any small business,” he said.

Asked by reporters after the radio program to explain more about his loans, however, he said Virginia law did not require him to provide more information.

“I’ve disclosed what needs to be disclosed,” he said.

Laura Vozzella and Alice Crites contributed to this report.

 
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