Former attorney general Jerry Kilgore testified Monday that there was little progress made between November 2011 and February 2012 in getting Star Scientific’s effort to obtain tobacco commission funding for its product off the ground.
Kilgore, who was serving as the company’s lobbyist at the time, repeatedly told Star chief executive Jonnie Williams that the company needed to get researchers at the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University on board with the project. In February 2012, Kilgore testified that he got a call from Gov. Robert McDonnell’s chief policy adviser, Jasen Eige.
Kilgore said Eige told him the governor had asked him about the project. According to Kilgore, Eige said, “I’ve been asked by the governor to call and show support” for Star at U-Va. and VCU. Kilgore also recalled Eige saying that he “didn’t think we should be pressuring U-Va. and VCU on this research.”
(Eige himself testified that he called Kilgore after receiving an e-mail from the first lady about university research, and before receiving an e-mail from the governor on the same subject.)
Kilgore said he told Eige there would be nothing wrong with the governor showing support for the project. “I thought it’d be helpful,” Kilgore said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Dry asked Kilgore whether there would have been anything inherently illegal about doing that.
“Wouldn’t be asking if there were,” Kilgore responded.
Not long after, as the clock struck exactly 5:30 p.m., Judge James R. Spencer interrupted Dry: “Are you almost finished?” he asked.
Dry responded that he believed he had about 15 minutes more of questions for Kilgore.
“We might as well look out for the comfort of our jurors,” Spencer said, announcing that he was calling it a day.
Court will resume at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, with Jerry Kilgore still on the stand.