RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – The FBI has launched an investigation into Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, his wife and a political donor who gave a $15,000 to help pay for the governor’s daughter’s wedding, according to a report in the Washington Post.
On Tuesday, McDonnell answered questions on his monthly radio appearance on WTOP radio’s “Ask the Governor” segment.
He governor responded to questions from the hosts and callers about gifts received from the Henrico-based company Star Scientific, Inc., which makes nutritional supplements.
The FBI wants to know more about the McDonnell family’s involvement with the company’s CEO Jonnie Williams and if his gifts were appropriate under the law.
According to the Associated Press and the Washington Post, the FBI is currently questioning people close to the governor and his wife Maureen, who helped set up a luncheon at the governor’s mansion to promote Star Scientific products.
Former executive mansion chef Todd Schneider, who’s facing felony charges for allegedly stealing food from the mansion for his catering business, reportedly handed federal and state investigators documents showing Williams paid a $15,000 bill to his company for catering the wedding of the governor’s daughter.
On the radio today, Gov. McDonnell said he wouldn’t comment on an ongoing criminal matter, but he did have a message for the people of Virginia.
“I do want to assure people that during my time as governor, neither Jonnie Williams, Star Scientific, nor any person or company that’s come before our administration to ask for something concerning budget or legislation or anything else, has been given special treatment. We treat people the same and fairly regardless of their position,” he said.
The $15,000 wedding gift, plus lending the governor a lake house for a vacation, raised red flag with investigators. But here’s something to keep in mind, under Virginia law it is not illegal for officeholders, including the governor, to take gifts, regardless of the value. They only have to disclose gifts worth more than $50.
Gov. McDonnell said he determined the money to pay for the catering of his daughter’s wedding was a gift from Williams to his daughter alone, not himself. By law, he didn’t need to report it.
Election records show Williams donated nearly $100,000 to Gov. McDonnell’s election campaign efforts.
CBS 6 called lawyers for the governor’s former chef today, who said they’re not commenting on what the governor had to say.
We do know they filed a motion to dismiss felony charges against Todd Schneider of taking state property from the mansion, mainly food. The motion alleges Schneider was only doing what he was told by the governor.