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McDonnell apologizes for controversy, repays loans from Star Scientific CEO

By Joe Dashiell, jdashiell@wdbj7.com
Published On: Jul 23 2013 06:40:00 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 23 2013 07:15:00 PM EDT

Governor Bob McDonnell says he's sorry for not disclosing that he and his wife borrowed more than $150,000 from Jonnie Williams, the CEO of Star Scientific. He says the loans have been repaid in full.

ROANOKE, Va. -

Governor Bob McDonnell has repaid more than $120 thousand in loans, and apologized for embarrassment the controversy has brought Virginia.

In a written statement released Tuesday afternoon, McDonnell said "I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment certain members of my family and I brought upon my beloved Virginia and her citizens. I want you to know that I broke no laws and that I am committed to regaining your sacred trust and confidence. I hope today's action is another step toward that end."

McDonnell's ties to Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams are the subject of continuing investigations.  The Governor has said he broke no laws when he and members of his family accepted gifts from Williams, and he repeated that assurance in Tuesday's statement.

Repayments include more than $50 thousand for a loan made to First Lady Maureen McDonnell and more than $70 thousand for two loans to a real estate business the Governor owns with his sister.

Following is the complete text of the Governor's statement:

"Being Governor of Virginia is the highest honor of my 37 years in public service. I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment certain members of my family and I brought upon my beloved Virginia and her citizens.  I want you to know that I broke no laws and that I am committed to regaining your sacred trust and confidence. I hope today's action is another step toward that end. Virginia has never been stronger and I plan to focus on creating even more jobs and facilitating greater opportunity during the last five months of my term as your governor. Our work together on education, transportation, pension reform, voting rights and economic expansion has produced great results for Virginia."

Later, Republican leaders in the House of Delegates said they appreciate "the Governor's honesty and willingness to address this issue in a forthcoming manner."

They also said they will seek strong reforms, "including new and rigorous reporting requirements on gifts to immediate family members."

Here is the text of the statement from the leadership in the House of Delegates:

Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), Majority Leader M. Kirkland "Kirk" Cox (R-Colonial Heights), Caucus Chairman Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax) and Majority Whip Jackson H. Miller (R-Manassas) released the following statement.

"For over 30 years, Bob McDonnell has been a hard-working and dedicated public servant. His service in the United States Army, as a prosecutor, as a member of the House of Delegates, and as Attorney General demonstrated his lifelong commitment to his country and the Commonwealth. His time as Governor has been marked with a number of historic achievements in transportation, K-12 and higher education, government reform and much more. He is known on both sides of the aisle as a man of character, integrity and good will. Personally, Bob McDonnell has been more than a capable colleague and effective working partner, he has been a friend.

"The Governor has apologized and taken responsibility for his actions. We appreciate his honesty and willingness to address this issue in a forthcoming manner. This is an important step toward regaining the trust and confidence of the people of Virginia.

"The events of recent weeks have raised a number of questions about Virginia's financial disclosure system. Our system relies on the principles of full disclosure and complete transparency. We believe those principles must be upheld by all elected officials.

"As leaders in the General Assembly, we have already begun a thorough review of our disclosure system. We plan to seek strong reforms including new and rigorous reporting requirements on gifts to immediate family members, synchronizing and simplifying reporting periods, and instituting disclosure compliance training for elected officials. We look forward to addressing these issues during the rapidly approaching 2014 Session."