The Washington Post

Lawyers for Va. governor’s ex-chef want to subpoena Cuccinelli

Lawyers for the chef accused of pilfering food from the governor’s mansion in Virginia are asking a judge to let them subpoena Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II to testify at a hearing in the case next month.

They want to question Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor, about his ties with Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the chief executive of Star Scientific Inc. Cuccinelli brought embezzlement charges against Todd Schneider, who served as the mansion chef until 2012.

Schneider’s defense team contends that the charges should be dropped because Cuccinelli had a conflict of interest that colored his ability to make neutral prosecutorial decisions. They already successfully argued that Cuccinelli should be removed from the case — a judge replaced him with a Norfolk prosecutor.

That’s because Schneider brought allegations of an improper financial relationship between Williams and Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) to staffers for Cuccinelli, without knowing that Cuccinelli owned stock and had received gifts from Williams.

Under state law, Schneider’s lawyers need permission from the judge to subpoena a sitting attorney general. On Friday, Cuccinelli moved to oppose the motion, arguing that Schneider’s request is too broad to compel the attorney general’s testimony and that of a top deputy.

Cuccinelli did not disclose the stock until October 2012. He also accepted nearly $19,000 in gifts from Williams, including some he failed to disclose until April. He has said the omissions were inadvertent.

McDonnell faces federal and state investigations into his relationship with Williams. Schneider was the one who first told authorities that Williams paid $15,000 for the catering at the 2011 wedding of McDonnell’s daughter. Investigators are now exploring tens of thousands of other gifts to McDonnell’s wife, Maureen, including money, expensive clothes and a $6,500 watch intended for the governor.

In November, Cuccinelli asked the local prosecutor in Richmond to conduct a review of McDonnell’s annual financial disclosures.

Rosalind Helderman is a political enterprise and investigations reporter for the Washington Post.

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