RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Virginia Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli published a video Tuesday in which he said he sent an $18,000 check to a Richmond-based charity to “resolve any questions surrounding the matter concerning Star Scientific.”
Cuccinelli received $18,000 worth of gifts from Jonnie Williams, the CEO of Henrico-based Star Scientific Jonnie Williams. Earlier this year, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell gave back all the gifts he’d received from Williams over the years.
The relationship between Williams and the governor is at the center of an investigation to determine whether the governor gave Williams and his company preferential treatment. Governor McDonnell has repeatedly denied doing so.
Cuccinelli donated the money to CrossOver Healthcare Ministries, which helps provide healthcare for uninsured and low-income Virginians. Officials said the donation means the organization can hire another mental health counselor.
"$18,000 is a lot to us," CrossOver's Executive Director Julie Scott Bilodeau said. "We told them that we would be very grateful that we certainly raise money every year and his gift would be greatly appreciated."
But why did he choose to donate to that charity above all others?
CrossOver Healthcare Ministries is an organization held in the highest regard for the work that they do. In addition, one of Cuccinelli’s strongest supporters sits on its board.
Richmond lawyer Richard Cullen, who is listed as a board member at CrossOver Healthcare Ministries, has given Cuccinelli almost $10,000 for his governor's race.
Cullen, a former Virginia attorney general, also donated to Cuccinelli's attorney general’s race four years ago. In addition, he is reported to have been an adviser to Cuccinelli during the newly elected attorney general's transition into the office.
There is another layer to this relationship. Cullen's son works as communications director on Cuccinelli's campaign staff.
CBS 6 political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said the non-profit’s stellar reputation will override political perception.
"Anyone that looks at CrossOver Healthcare Ministries knows it does good work and it’s really not a political body at all," Dr. Bob said.
The Cuccinelli campaign said Cuccinelli choose the charity because of its commitment to mental health services which is a passionate issue for the attorney general.
Officials at CrossOver Healthcare Ministries, who served nearly 7,000 people last year, said they were grateful for the donation and will use the money to expand mental health services.