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The attorney general had been criticized for receiving $18,000 in gifts from Jonnie Williams.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has moved to put aside questions about gifts he received from a business executive by writing a check for that amount to a Richmond-based charity.
“I made the decision to send the check because it is the right thing to do, plain and simple,” he said Tuesday.
Cuccinelli has received gifts amounting to $18,000 from Jonnie Williams, chief executive of Star Scientific, a diet supplement company that is contesting a $1.8 million tax bill from the state.
Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor, has said his office handled that dispute as it would any other. While Williams had complained to him about the taxes, Cuccinelli has said he only listened and took no action.
“This is something that I would have liked to have done sooner, but like most Virginians, writing a check for more than $18,000 is not a simple matter for my family and me. It’s taken a while to get our funds together,” Cuccinelli said.
“For those who’ve been disappointed in this situation or how I’ve handled it, I apologize. It’s been a humbling set of lessons for me,” he said.
Cuccinelli gave the $18,000 to Cross Over Ministries, a free clinic in Richmond with a special interest in mental health, a longtime concern of Cuccinelli’s dating back to before his election to the state Senate.
The money came from personal funds of Cuccinelli and his wife, along with some help from family, spokeswoman Anna Nix said.
Gov. Bob McDonnell, whose family members received larger sums in gifts and loans from Williams, had earlier repaid or returned those.
Cuccinelli’s gift did not mute criticism from his political opponents, though.
“Ken Cuccinelli has led the most scandal-plagued attorney general’s office in recent memory — his tenure defined by scandal and conflicts that embarrass Virginia like Star Scientific, Bobby Thompson and helping out-of-state energy companies in their battle against Virginia landowners,” said McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin.
“Cuccinelli’s pattern of ethical behavior is always the same: get caught in scandals, do nothing for months, and then buckle to pressure for his own political reasons,” Schwerin said.
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