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The attorney general has denied discussing a wealthy donor’s lawsuit against the state.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said he never discussed a $1.7 million lawsuit against the state filed by a friend’s company with that friend, but his campaign and office still would not say whether he ever talked about the tax dispute before the lawsuit.
Cuccinelli’s friend, Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, has given $35,000 to the attorney general, Gov. Bob McDonnell and their families since their election — a period in which uncollected taxes owed by Star grew by $400,000 because of accruing penalties and interest. Star also gave more than $79,000 to McDonnell’s political action committee since the election.
“Star Scientific sued the commonwealth in July of 2011, and at no point did I discuss that case with Jonnie or with anybody else at Star Scientific,” Cuccinelli said when asked about the matter during a campaign stop in Norfolk on Tuesday. He is running for governor in the November election.
Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix did not reply Tuesday when asked if that meant he had never discussed Star’s tax liability before the lawsuit.
Cuccinelli has said he was unaware of the lawsuit when he made a $10,000 investment in Star Scientific stock, two months after the company sued the state seeking to overturn what is now an 11-year-old tax assessment.
It was his second investment in the company, which has disclosed the tax dispute and discussed its options to seek legal action to resolve the matter in financial filings since 2005.
In the two years since Star sued, the state has filed only one brief, with a single sentence saying that the company’s argument that its tax assessment was improper was a matter of legal opinion that did not require a response.
Asked why the state hasn’t asked for a hearing or argued its case for the assessment, Cuccinelli has said it is up to Star to make the next move.
Star was hit by three more stockholder lawsuits this month, alleging that it misled investors about medical research and a federal investigation of the company’s stock issues and transactions with some of its officers.
Virginian-Pilot reporter Bill Sizemore contributed to this report.
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