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The governor said the payment is for items his children took to college with them over 3.5 years.
Attorney Steven Benjamin (left) and former executive mansion chef Todd Schneider arrive at the John Marshall Courts Building in Richmond for pre-trial hearing on motions.
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
As legal and public pressure mounts over the use of Executive Mansion resources by Virginia’s first family, Gov. Bob McDonnell late last week reimbursed the state for nearly $2,400 in food and household supplies used by his children.
The governor’s office disclosed the reimbursement Monday, the same day that a Richmond Circuit Court judge deferred until later this week a decision on whether to dismiss the four-count embezzlement indictment against former mansion chef Todd Schneider.
Schneider, charged with taking food from the mansion during his time there, alleged in court filings that the McDonnells misused mansion resources for personal, private and political events, including sending mansion supplies back to school with their college-age children.
The total for his children over 3½ years is reflected in “an invoice I will now pay to ensure that there is no question that any potential personal expense has been reimbursed,” McDonnell said in a July 5 memo to Dennis Johnson, director of the Division of Selected Agency Support Services, which oversees the budget of the governor’s office and the mansion.
The governor’s office provided a copy of the memo to the Richmond Times-Dispatch along with itemized lists of the food and supplies and a copy of the $2,390.55 reimbursement check written on McDonnell’s personal account.
The lists — for McDonnell twins Sean and Bobby and daughter Rachel — included Gatorade, paper towels, laundry detergent, cold cuts, microwave foods, chips and energy shakes.
The governor said it was the first time he had been presented with an invoice “accurately documenting these expenses.” He noted that his lawyer, Anthony Troy, had told him that providing the items was “generally permissible since the state guidelines contain no prohibition, and such expenses may be customary for first families with a returning college student.”
Speaking with reporters Monday after the Schneider court hearing, Troy, a former state attorney general, articulated his first public defense of the governor and responded to charges that the first family inappropriately used mansion resources.
The lawyer recalled his own upbringing as the son of an Italian mother, and said that she would not let him go back to school without “a cold meatball sandwich.”
That’s how families operate, said Troy. “And the first family shouldn’t be treated any differently.”
Troy also said the description listed for the chef’s job, formerly occupied by Schneider, includes providing services for the first family and all mansion events at all times — a direct counter to claims by Schneider that he was owed payment for working private, personal and political McDonnell events at the mansion that fell beyond the scope of his official duties.
Schneider worked for McDonnell from 2010 to early 2012 and is accused of stealing food and supplies from the official residence. He says administration officials told him to take food in lieu of payment for handling those events.
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