Gov. McDonnell visits Afghanistan, says he won’t resign
(CNN) — Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said he hasn’t given any thought to resigning as he faces heat for gifts and loans he’s received from a political donor in recent years.
“I’m not going anywhere. I love this job,” the Republican said Wednesday, saying there had been some “very bad rumors” about his possible resignation. “There has been no consideration of that.”
His comments came in an interview with TV station News4 in Washington, D.C. McDonnell was speaking via satellite from Kabul, Afghanistan, where he’s visiting U.S. troops.
The embattled governor announced Tuesday he was paying back more than $120,000 in loans amid federal and state investigations into gifts and financial contributions he received from the wealthy executive, Jonnie Williams, Sr.
McDonnell, who has said previously he will not resign, added he was working toward advancing policy items in the final five months of his governorship.
He said Wednesday he was “deeply sorry that those things that have been done either by me or my family have created a problem for Virginia government and have caused some embarrassment.”
“If it undermined peoples sacred trust in me or government, I wanted to make it right,” he said.
McDonnell argued he broke no laws and is committed to regaining his constituents trust and confidence.
The Republican governor has been under intense scrutiny for the past several weeks over gifts and loans he received from Williams, the owner of a dietary supplement company that McDonnell and his wife have promoted in recent years.
On Tuesday, McDonnell said he had repaid Williams $52,278 for a loan made to his wife Maureen McDonnell in 2011, as well as a $71,837 for two loans made to a McDonnell family business.
Funds for repayment came from McDonnell himself, his family, and his family’s business.
Until the recent controversy McDonnell was considered a possible contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. McDonnell was elected governor in 2009. He was unable to run for re-election this year, as Virginia law prevents governors from serving consecutive terms.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee in this year’s Virginia gubernatorial election, owned stock in Williams’ company, but sold off his shares earlier this year. He also collected more than $18,000 in gifts from the executive and stayed at his vacation house on Smith Mountain Lake.
Cuccinelli’s Democratic rival Terry McAuliffe Tuesday called on the attorney general to follow McDonnell’s lead on Tuesday.
“Since the Governor has begun the process of repaying Jonnie Williams, so should the Attorney General,” McAuliffe spokesperson Josh Schwerin wrote. “The Attorney General should repay the $18,000 in gifts he received from the CEO of a company he was supposed to be pursuing for unpaid taxes. Instead of taking Williams and his company to court, Cuccinelli was taking gifts and vacations and buying stock in the company.”
Last week a state investigation indicated the attorney general would not face charges for the failure to report the gifts, adding that there was no evidence Cuccinelli committed a crime.
“Ken Cuccinelli has been open and transparent in his race for governor, while Terry McAuliffe uses scare tactics to distract voters from his history of broken promises and unanswered questions,” said Anna Nix, a spokeswoman for the Cuccinelli campaign.